A sleepy driver is no less dangerous than a drunk one — about a quarter of all accidents occur precisely because of falling asleep at the wheel. Moreover, a person often may not feel that his concentration of attention has greatly decreased. The monotonous road, the dark time of the day and many hours of driving tire gradually, and the transition to sleep is simply not fixed by the driver. According to the experience of motorists, even in a well-rested person, the reaction rate is halved after 4 hours of continuous driving. MedAboutMe will tell you how to recognize the danger in time and what measures to take so that accidental falling asleep does not lead to tragedy.
Signs of falling asleep while driving
Drivers going on a long journey need to be aware of the signs of a decrease in concentration. Urgent action should be taken if a person notices:
- Slow blinking, heavy eyelids.
- Muscle relaxation.
- Concentration on something monotonous, for example, when the driver does not take his eyes off the road markings for a long time.
- Short-term loss of control, for example, the car moves out of its lane a little.
- Slow reaction to any irritants, whether it be questions from a fellow traveler or road signs.
It should also be borne in mind that very tired drivers sometimes experience the so-called microsleep — turning off attention and reaction for 10–30 seconds with their eyes open. Therefore, it is necessary to deal with drowsiness already at the first signs.
Tip 1: nutrition
Truckers often recommend something to chew on the road. It is important that we are talking about light snacks, and not at all about a hearty dinner, after which, on the contrary, it makes you sleepy even more. For food on the road, products with a pronounced taste are suitable, which can be chewed or sucked for a long time:
- Sour apple.
- Dried fruits.
- Nuts (seeds are very popular).
- Citrus. If you are intolerant of sour, a tangerine or orange will do. But still, one of the most effective ways to wake up is considered a small slice of lemon, placed under the tongue.
- Bitter chocolate (at least 75% cocoa).
If the road is long, and a good rest is not expected, it is better to refuse meat dishes and large portions. In extreme cases, in a roadside cafe, you can order a plate of salad or light soup.
Tip 2: Drink
Very often, in order to cheer up, people take various energy drinks on the road. Indeed, caffeine, which is in their composition, is able to save a person from sleep for a while. But its effect will not last more than 1–2 hours, and drinking more than one can a day is simply dangerous for health. In addition, they will not work at all on a very tired person. If the driver falls asleep at the wheel and has been driving for more than 6 hours, caffeine will affect the nervous system in a rather peculiar way — the person will simply be overexcited, and this will further reduce concentration and reaction speed. Therefore, it is not recommended to drink not only energy drinks, but also tea and coffee on the road.
The following drinks are suitable for drivers:
- Mineral water.
- Plain water with ice and lemon slices.
- Juices. Citrus fruits are especially invigorating — grapefruit, orange and others.
- Decoctions of ginseng, wild rose, eleutherococcus, echinacea. Naturally, we are not talking about alcohol tinctures — even a small amount of alcohol is dangerous for the driver.
Tip 3: singing and music
It is very good for long trips to make your own playlist, which will not contain slow and relaxing songs. It is important to select compositions with familiar lyrics, because singing helps many drivers get rid of sleep. There are several reasons for the effectiveness of this method:
- During singing, the lungs begin to work more intensively, which means that the blood is better saturated with oxygen, and this also has an invigorating effect on the body. If possible, you need to open a window in the car for a short time — fresh air will enhance the effect.
- Remembering the lyrics of a song is a job for the brain, and while it is busy, falling asleep will not happen.
Tip 4: travel companion
The passenger is perhaps the best way to keep the driver from falling asleep at the wheel. Communication ideally helps to get rid of drowsiness, in addition, a fellow traveler will be able to control the condition of the motorist, monitor his eyes and reactions and wake him up in time. If you have to spend 4 or more hours behind the wheel, it is better not only to talk, but also to play logic games. Even a simple word game will help the brain to work in the right mode.
Passengers can also pose a danger to the driver. This happens if they fall asleep in the car. Therefore, it is better to transfer sleepy fellow travelers to the back seat, and the passengers themselves should still try not to turn off and support the one who is driving. Also, do not distract the driver with conversations or excessive noise in the first hours of the road — this, on the contrary, will tire him faster.
Tip 5: smells
One of the ways that truckers often recommend is to use strong odors against sleep. Of course, you can just buy a flavor, but, as practice shows, the driver quickly gets used to their smell and after a maximum of 2 hours practically does not react to it. Natural essential oils can be a good alternative. A couple of drops on a paper napkin is enough to effectively drive away sleep for 1–1.5 hours. After that, you can use another oil. Tonic aromas include:
- Pine, spruce.
In addition, you can also use an ordinary orange or lemon in the car interior — the fruit must be cut into slices and laid out in the cabin. In the most extreme cases, drivers sniff ammonia, but it is not recommended to use it constantly.
Tip 6: Move
Physical activity helps wake up the brain. Therefore, if the driver feels that he is gradually falling into a slumber, you can intensively move your shoulders, make several head tilts. And it is best to stop, get out of the car and sit down intensively a couple of times, bend over, take a few sharp breaths. Such a charge will take only 2–5 minutes, and there will be enough vigor for several more hours of the road.
In addition, during a stop, you can perform exercises for the eyes without even leaving the car — consistently translate and fix your eyes on the steering wheel, the farthest point of the road, in the rear-view mirror, in the side mirror, in the oncoming lane, and so on. And after the eyes have rested, continue moving.
Tip 7: Stops and Sleep
The driver always needs to adequately assess their capabilities. It is better to break long distances into several days and make a full stop with an overnight stay. If the route is planned to be covered in a day, then you need to remember about the regime — every 2–4 hours it is necessary to make stops. At this time, it is better to get out of the car, move around, drink water, breathe fresh air.
If all means of combating sleep do not help for longer than 30 minutes, this means that the body is already extremely exhausted. It is extremely dangerous to continue driving in this state: no matter what the driver does, his brain will turn off in the near future anyway. Even if the microsleep takes 5–10 seconds, this is enough for tragic consequences.
The best thing to do in such a situation is to stop by the side of the road and let yourself sleep for at least 15 minutes. This, of course, will not replace a good rest, but it will make it possible to hold out to a place with a suitable overnight stay.