How to fight drowsiness behind the wheel

June 26, 2014 12:00 AM

There are plenty of ways that people cope with sleepiness when embarking on cross-country road trips. A recent survey conducted by DMEautomotive found that some methods people use to wake up while driving don't actually help fatigue. Especially in the case of young drivers, trying to find a quicker fix to combating sleepiness than actually resting may be dangerous. 

The method most widely used by drivers is caffeine. Drivers also reported that they open windows, pull over and stretch, or blast loud music to wake up. These techniques, studies have indicated, have little to no effect on sleepiness. There are a plethora of tactics drivers use to combat tired eyes, though there are only two methods that are medically proven to be effective in waking a driver up during a long trip. 

These two methods - switching drivers and pulling over to take a nap - are only exercised by 44.5 percent and 19 percent of young drivers, respectively. Methods more widely used than napping are loud music, singing, eating and turning up air conditioning. 

If you are planning on taking a long trip at some point this summer, after a vehicle maintenance check and tune up, it is just as important to make sure that you are well rested and have co-pilots who are willing to drive if you begin to feel drowsy. A good night's sleep before the trip is the most effective way to beat tiredness, according to DMEautomotive, but if additional lengths need to be taken to stay awake, take a 20 minute to three-hour nap. If possible, avoid driving between midnight and 6 a.m. and try to rest during these hours instead. You can also rotate day and night shifts with two or more drivers. These methods will help to restore some alertness you may have lost on the drive. 

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