Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, provides the five tips to keep you from falling asleep behind the wheel!
• Minimise Sleep Loss – The effects of losing one or two hours of sleep a night on a regular basis can lead to chronic sleepiness over time. Extreme tiredness can lead to micro-sleeps. This is a short episode of drowsiness or sleep that could last a fraction of a second or up to 30 seconds. A car driving at 70 mph will travel 31 meters per second, giving plenty of time to cause a serious crash during a micro sleep so ensure you are well rested and feeling fit and healthy before you set off.
• Regular Breaks – Make sure you take regular rest breaks to split up the journey when driving on a long, boring stretch of a motorway. It’s good practise to stop at least every two hours and it’s essential to take a break before the drowsiness sets in. If necessary, plan an overnight stop. If you feel too fatigued to carry on driving, then book yourself into a hotel at the next service station and sleep it off. Wake up fresh with a good breakfast, and carry on your journey. It’s good to note that a caffeine high may be a quick fix, but it is not a long-term solution and certainly no substitute for proper sleep.
• Journey Planning – You’re bound to be tired after a full day at work, so avoid setting out on a long drive after you have finished for the day. It’s best to start your journey earlier on, and when you’re more alert. If driving a long distance after work is essential then be sure to take a sufficient break in between.
• Time of Day – If possible, avoid driving between the two peak times for sleepiness. These are between 3am and 5am and also between 2pm and 4pm. Alongside this setting off for longer journeys in rush-hour traffic may also make you tired as sitting stationary often leads to lower concentration levels and distractions.
• Medication – If you have taken prescribed medication, then seek advice from your GP as to whether you should be driving or not as some medicines can cause drowsiness which risks you falling asleep on the road. If bought over the counter, then read the instructions on the pack or speak to a pharmacist.
With ever busier lives and work routines even the fittest of us need regular sleep to perform at our highest standards out on the road. Driving requires full concentration at all times and if you are tired, your ability to concentrate will be severely reduced. Stop, rehydrate and rest if you need to.
Can you think of any more top tips to stop you falling asleep behind the wheel? If so, let us know on our social media channels.
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