When you’re on the road, t’s vital to concentrate and focus fully, particularly on long trips. So why is it important to stay alert while driving? The answer is simple: fatigue is one of the leading causes of accidents, and knowing how to prevent fatigue is of the utmost importance for every driver. A lapse of concentration could mean the difference between life and death. Read on for some tips on how to stay alert behind the wheel, and how to prevent accidents occurring on long trips.
1. Only drive when well-rested
If you have a long drive coming up, ensure that you get a good night’s sleep or some decent rest beforehand. Driving may not require much physical exertion, but it can be mentally draining. Make sure that you start your drive off on a good note, to ensure you stay as alert as possible.
Try not to start long drives late at night, as this is when you’re most likely to feel fatigued. And remember – drinking copious amounts of coffee is not a replacement for a good night’s rest. Preparation is key for long journeys, so make sure you get some good-quality shuteye before setting off on your trip.
2. Don’t drive late at night
As mentioned above, it helps to steer clear of starting long drives late at night, when your mind and body are most likely to be getting ready for sleep. If you’ve already been driving all day, you will also be feeling sleepy by nighttime, so it is important to be very aware of the possibility of fatigue at this stage of your trip.
If you’re doing a multi-day trip, make sure you have somewhere safe to stay for the night where you can rest up for the next leg of the journey. Under time pressure? Make sure you rest for at least part of the night to ensure you can concentrate for the rest of the journey.
3. Don’t drive for extended periods of time
Ensure that you factor in rest breaks along your route if you’re undertaking a long drive. It’s recommended to take a break from driving every two hours at least, but you may benefit from doing so more frequently. If you’re feeling at all tired, it’s best to pull over at the next safe stopping point, even if just for 10–15 minutes, to get some fresh air and stretch your legs.
Breaks provide a much-needed respite for the brain, and a chance to check in with those who are following your journey. Remember that not only cars need fuel; your body does too! Ensure that you refuel when necessary so that you’re not hungry or thirsty along your way, as this can lead to a lack of focus on the road.
4. Never drink and drive
Excessive drinking and driving is illegal for good reason. Alcohol slows down the body’s responses, making accidents far more likely to occur. It can also cause drowsiness, which is incredibly dangerous, especially for drivers on long journeys.
Never drink alcohol before starting driving, or along the way. The same rule applies for medications that may cause drowsiness – check with your doctor if this applies to you.
5. Bring company where possible
It may not always be an option for you to bring someone along with you, but it can be extremely useful to have company while driving. Having a passenger in your vehicle can make longer journeys less tedious, and the other person may be able to share the driving where applicable.
Of course, it is important that you aren’t distracted by others in your car while driving! But oftentimes, having some company can help you stay engaged and fully focused while driving, and stave off feelings of tiredness or boredom. Alternatively, a form of audio entertainment such as some good music or a podcast can be a great option for providing some interest along the route. This can help you stay alert and focused while on the road.
So how do you drive long distances without getting tired? As we’ve seen, there are many steps you can take to help you to stay alert behind the wheel. Now that lockdowns are easing and more and more people are getting back on the road, it’s increasingly important to stay focused while driving to avoid accidents happening, especially late at night. Remember to take frequent breaks, and to avoid driving when feeling fatigued or drowsy. Have a safe trip!