Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tips to Avoid Falling Asleep at the Wheel

We all live busy lives, with the ongoing stresses of work life and family life frequently added to by the pressure of going on holiday, visiting relatives, and trying to squeeze in what other people refer to as “free time”. With not enough hours in the day to allow for sleep, feeling drowsy at the wheel is sometimes inevitable, yet the consequences can be catastrophic.

Fatigue occurs most when driving on poorly lit roads at high speed, far from the visual stimulation of city lights. It lowers your reaction time, affects your judgment, and could lead to a fatal accident. By following these tips, you can vastly reduce the chance of this happening.

Plan ahead
When planning on driving long distances, remember that you will feel tired and be prepared for it. Ensure you are well rested before starting the drive, drive during the day if possible, and do not eat foods heavy in carbohydrates or medicine that makes you drowsy. Then, when you are driving, take a break every couple of hours even if you don’t need to. By breaking the routine of driving, your mind will be more stimulated.

Get off the road
If you feel tired when driving, you are a danger to yourself and others and should get off the road. This is by far the safest thing to do. For long-haul truckers this is mandatory, as they are only permitted to drive for 10 hours in 24. For car drivers, this is common sense. Pulling in to a lay-by or service station to have a nap may get you home a little later, but is worth it if it gets you home safely. If the facility is there, have a cup of a coffee. Better yet, book in to a hotel or motel and continue your journey the following day.

When this isn’t possible
If there is nowhere to stop in sight, and you feel your eyelids closing, there are a few temporary solutions. First of all, reduce your speed. This reduces the chance of a crash, as well as the chance of a fatality should the worst occur. Then, wind down your window and talk to a passenger. The fresh air and the distraction of chatting will help keep you awake. If this isn’t possible, turn up the radio. Then, look for a service station. The only real way to prevent falling asleep at the wheel is to take a nap somewhere safe.

By following these tips you should be able to avoid drowsiness and deal with it better when it occurs. As a final suggestion, ensure your car is in top condition. Regular checks of vital components like the tires, brakes, glass and seatbelts will help keep you safe in a crash, and can play on the mind if noticed but not fixed. Worrying about the windshield replacement cost when you should be focusing on the road will not keep you any safer.

Catherine Halsey is based in Edinburgh and writes for a digital marketing agency. This article links back to Speedyglass.ca.


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