If you are driving between the hours of midnight and six in the morning, the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission says you are less safe due to drowsy drivers. Drowsy driving has been shown to be as dangerous as drinking and driving, according to the NHTSC.
Realistically, you could be less safe because you are the drowsy driver and pose a threat to yourself and others while you are behind the wheel. There are some ways to keep you more alert while driving during the middle of the night or on long trips so that you don’t find yourself driving while drowsy and imposing a risk upon everyone on the road with you.
Enlist the help of your vehicle’s features. Cold temperatures seem to keep some people awake, so turn on the air conditioning or crack a window. If you feel the cold air blowing into your face, it may be difficult to drift into dreamland. Also, the cold air may put your body on alert, making it less likely that you will be able to relax enough to feel drowsy.
Eat or drink something. There are many ways food and drink can help you if you are driving while drowsy. Some people feel invigorated by drinking coffee or other beverages high in caffeine. Be careful with caffeine, though, because while it wakes some people up, it helps others sleep better. Know how your body reacts to caffeine prior to drinking it to stay awake behind the wheel.
Coffee isn’t your only option, though. If you find yourself driving while drowsy, just about any snack or beverage can help you stay engaged enough to keep you awake. Taking small sips of water every few minutes can even help. You might want to engage the power of the unfamiliar, though, by sucking on a lemon or eating something bitter if your mouth is not used to consuming those foods regularly.
Turn up the volume. Singing along to a favorite song can help keep the sleepies at bay. But what might be more effective when driving while drowsy is to turn on music you don’t like. If you listen to a song you can’t stand, you will be engaging your mind with all the internal complaining you are likely to do. Also, you may find that the song gets stuck in your head, which also keeps your mind occupied and could help keep you awake.
Thousands of people are hurt every year in vehicle collisions involving drowsy drivers. By knowing how to distract yourself and keep your mind and body alert during riskier driving periods, you can avoid being one of them. A drowsy driver is just as culpable for choices when it comes to unsafe driving habits as a drunk driver. Driving while drowsy is not safe and should be avoided as much as possible, but if you find yourself in the situation, adjust the temperature and volume and start snacking. It could save a life.