No one expects to fall asleep at the wheel. It seems counterintuitive to think that you could fall asleep while driving. Yet thousands do it each year. In fact, studies have shown that driving drowsy can be as dangerous as driving drunk. Lulling off to sleep takes only a second, and invariably causes an accident. But you can take 5 simple precautions that will dramatically reduce your risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
1) When possible, drive while it is light outside.
Most asleep at the wheel accidents occur before the sun has come up or after it goes down. The human body sleeps much more easily in these environments of relative darkness. Waiting until sunrise to start your commute and trying to get home in the evening before nightfall is a good move whenever possible.
2) A plastic bag full of ice.
When you know you might get drowsy during a car trip but you still have to drive, take along a zip lock baggy of ice. If you start to get drowsy, run the ice along the back of your neck and your temples. If you still aren’t awake, roll down the window so that the air hits your wet skin.
3) Listen to the Music
Turning up the radio and singing along to the words is a good way to fight drowsiness. The best stations are upbeat and play songs that you know. Belt out the songs as loud as you can, gesture, pretend you are a rock star. You may look silly, but you’ll look and feel sillier if you dose off and drive off the road.
4) Drink caffeine
Caffeine is the best friend of many tired people. But to use caffeine successfully to stay awake you have to remember that a caffeine high is followed by low or increased drowsiness when the caffeine wears off. If you are going to use this substance to stay awake, remember to keep putting it in your system until you finish driving.
5) Pull over and take a nap
The most effective way to fight drowsiness is to get some sleep. If you feel drowsy while driving, pull over, and take a nap. A twenty-minute nap in your car will get you a full hour of alert driving time.
Remember to watch for warning signs whenever you decide whether to take any of the discussed steps. Heavy eyelids, yawning, trailing off toward the right side of your lane, and blurry vision are all signs of fatigue and impending disaster.