How To Stay Awake While Driving
It’s something we have all done–driving while tired. Yet, it’s one of the greater safety hazards going with an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses caused annually by drowsy driving. The simple solution is don’t drive when you’re tired. More than one-third of us have fallen asleep while driving, even if only for a second or two (a condition called microsleep). But if you can’t get enough sleep and have to drive, how do you stay awake while driving? RELATED: See the Mercedes-Benz with Attention Assist
High-tech solutions exist. There’s an interesting feature on select Mercedes-Benz vehicles called Attention Assist (see video below). In the first few miles of your journey, the system develops a driver profile, using steering, accelerator and brake inputs. It then detects if you start to deviate from that profile, and combines that with the time you've been on the road and the time of day to determine if you are getting drowsy
The system works. It pegged me once for being drowsy when I thought I wasn’t. I was wrong. Fortunately I was five miles from home and the system woke me up enough to get me home (without stopping for a cup of coffee.)
Avoid low-tech solutions like those driver alert systems that hang off your ear and detect when you head starts to dip. Unfortunately from personal experience (albeit more than 25 years ago), I know they can fail. I fell asleep with one on my ear and went off the highway. Fortunately no one was hurt in my single-car accident.
RELATED: Is it illegal to sleep in your car?
This is an old truck driver’s trick that some over-the-road veterans swear by. Hold something valuable in your left hand — like your smartphone — and hang it out the window. They say it will keep you alert because you don’t want to drop it. Plus, there’s the benefit of fresh air flooding the passenger cabin and all the road noise.
Another good tip is to drink a soft drink with caffeine in it. Coffee isn’t preferred because the caffeine isn’t measured reliably like you will find with pre-packaged soft drinks. Go for the biggest jolt you can get.
RELATED: The 2016 Nissan Maxima Protects Against Drowsy Driving
Another low-tech tip is simply get out of your car for 5-10 minutes and walk around. It opens up the cobwebs in your mind and can leave you feeling refreshed. Walk at a brisk enough pace to get your heartbeat up.
Something else to consider, if you can do so in a safe location, is pull into a parking lot and take a nap. Even a short 15-minute snooze can do wonders. However, make sure your doors are locked and the engine is not running. This ensures you catch some shuteye with the peace of mind that you are minimizing the hazard to yourself, as well as others on the road.