Many hours driving at night is always a challenge for the body. For the driver it’s also a big responsibility, especially when he carries his family or friends. But what to do, when despite the fatigue, you need to continue the drive?
Drowsiness behind the wheel can reach us at different times. Apart from lack of sleep, the reason may also be high temperatures or too strong heating in the car. An impaired concentration after a heavy meal, especially in the afternoon is often a problem. The hardest thing, however, is to remain vigilant about 4 o'clock in the morning – it’s the most critical time in which it’s difficult to control the body's natural reflexes.
This line should not be crossed
How do we know that we are approaching the limit, beyond which we won’t be able to stop sleepiness?
Strong fatigue begins innocently - from yawning. Then, you may get a sense of self-closing eye-lids and fatally dangerous temptation to close them at least for a second.
While driving, when you are very tired, we drive mechanically, routinely and then we’re not able to react immediately, eg. to a pedestrian, who steps into the road or the vehicle driving out from the unlit side of the road. Driver’s reaction becomes so slow, like in case of a person being under the influence of alcohol.
An important symptom of severe fatigue can also be quick forgetting, or not even recording what has happened on the road by the moment. When the awareness switches off, it’s a sign that you should immediately pull over to the parking lot.
Falling asleep behind the wheel happens especially, when we drive on the roads outside the city. Very monotonous is driving on highways or long straight stretches of national roads. In such circumstances, the use of cruise control may be fatal. The facilities, which are supposed to maintain a constant speed, even increase the monotony of driving, so it’s better not to use it at night.
How not to fall asleep while driving at night?
Drivers share various tips on how to cope with fatigue and sleepiness over the internet. A popular idea is to reach for a cup of coffee, sweets with caffeine or energy drinks. At some point, a strong dose of caffeine and taurine can help, but because of the health effects it’s not recommended to drink several energy drinks, one by one. Besides, if one won’t help you, the third won’t either. The ”food” ideas also include chocolate, or even lemon with sugar. When the fatigue isn’t too strong, chewing gum may be helpful as well.
Increasing of air supply is highly recommended in order to lesser the fatigue. We can open the window for a moment or turn on the cooling. Even after you close the windows it’s better when it’s not too hot in the car, because the high temperature causes drowsiness.
An effective way to stop drowsiness may be occupy your mind with some activity. Therefore, it’s a very good idea to talk as much as possible with a passenger. As long as we're talking, we have a small chances that we fall asleep at the wheel. If we’re driving alone, we can turn on the audio book, unless of course it won’t be a lulling bedtime story. An engaging plot for some drivers is an effective way for keeping the mind active.
The most effective way to overcome drowsiness are breaks – it’s good to stop more often at night than during a day. A good idea is to stay on a well-lit parking lot (eg. at the station), get out of the car, pour some cold water on your face and do some sit-ups. Walk and exercises can wake us for a longer time.
And when we get into the car again, let's set the seat in a more upright position than usual, so that the driving position wouldn’t encourage us to fall asleep too fast.
It’s worth mentioning that sleeping while driving is also dangerous for the passengers. They are in such positions, which weren’t predicted by the manufacturers of seat belts and airbags. In case of an accident, sleepy passengers will be more prone to injuries.