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Alert Behind the Wheel: Eye-Opening Tips for Long Road Trips

People who are in a hurry often neglect the one thing they shouldn’t: sleep. Here are the advantages of getting plenty of rest before getting behind the wheel and some eye-opening statistics that should cause you to give pause when those eyelids start to get heavy.

The Stats

According to some studies, drowsy driving is responsible for more than 100,000 crashes a year, with around 37 percent of drivers reporting that they fall asleep or nod off behind the wheel. According to a recent Gallup poll, 7.5 million drivers nodded off while driving.

And, notes that, “An estimated 13 percent of truck accidents involve a trucker who was too tired to drive safely.” If you’re heading out on the road, whether you do it professionally, or you’re just going on vacation, you need to prepare for the trip so you make it there in one piece.

Photo CC by Robert Couse-Baker

How To Prepare For  A Long Drive

Get some sleep. Seriously. Your body needs roughly 7 to 8 hours every night of quality sleep. This means uninterrupted sleep. Start 3 to 5 days prior to your trip, practicing getting to bed at a decent hour and sleeping through the night. Some drivers believe that one solid night of sleep will make up for several nights of sleep deprivation, but this isn’t true.

Your body operates by something called a “circadian rhythm.” it’s this rhythm that establishes and controls sleep/wake cycles. If you’re not in good rhythm, you won’t feel fully rested during the day, and you need time to establish that rhythm if you’ve been suffering with sleep deprivation.

Another thing that’s important is to condition your body for long driving trips. Don’t simply get into a vehicle and expect to drive for 7 hours straight if you’ve never gone on a long trip before. Practice spending time in your vehicle, and racking up the hours. Even then, you will need to stop every hour or two to stretch once you’re on your real road trip.

If you need to drive overnight, condition yourself to handle the overnight driving. Yes, this means moving your circadian rhythm so that you wake up later in the day. You will need at least 3 to 5 days to adjust to your new sleep schedule.

Stock up your vehicle or truck with snacks and drinks. Consider creating a playlist of your favorite music to keep you busy and keep your mind active on your trip.

Get some sleep. Seriously.

Staying Awake On The Road

Once you’re out on the road, don’t forget to move your body around. Turn off your cruise control and apply pressure to the gas and brake pedals periodically. This will help keep you awake while driving, especially if you’ve been on the road for a while.

Dance in your seat – don’t go crazy but keep yourself moving as much as you can without becoming distracted.

Eat something periodically to keep your blood-sugar levels up.

When you do get tired, pull over and take a nap. It only takes 20 minutes or so to rejuvenate you for a few hours. If you need a longer nap, you can sleep for up to 45 minutes without seriously impacting your night-time sleep.

Don’t forget to stop periodically and get out and walk around. Take time to stretch your legs, and do some jumping jacks or a quick jog around your vehicle.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

Steven Murdoch works in driver instructional training. He enjoys consulting with an online audience and his posts mainly relate to road safety and awareness.

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