Whether you’re a seasoned roadster who drives for a living, a commuter who racks up a whole lot of miles on the road or just someone who enjoys testing the endurance of their vehicle on long and relentless journeys (what better way to tame your new beast?) it’s vital that you do so while heeding the dangers of driver fatigue.
Driving while tired (even if you feel perfectly perky) is a risky proposition, making you vulnerable to serious accidents. As much as you may trust your own driving (after all, it takes a driver of skill and sagacity to tame a high-end vehicle), it’s not just your own driving that you’ll have to contend with on the freeway.
Chances are, you’ll be beset on all sides by tired drivers. I’m talking, of course, about our trucker friends. Commercial trucks on average weigh around 25 times more than a typical passenger car, so when they get into accidents, the damage can be catastrophic. In fact, the US Department of Transportation estimates that almost 4,000 deaths are caused by truck accidents every year, with driver fatigue often cited as a leading cause. While there are an incredible team of truck accident attorneys who can help you if you collide with an 18 wheeler, prevention is the best cure, so let’s look at some easy ways to combat driver fatigue that you’ll be alert and reactive enough to prevent damage to your beautiful car (and indeed your beautiful self).
Underestimating the importance of our diet is an issue that afflicts many of us, but when you don’t take of yourself by eating right on the road, then your waistline may not be the only thing that suffers. This may well be easier said than done with your options often limited by what’s available at rest stops and gas stations. If you’re increasingly finding that processed, sugary fatty and salty foods are your only option then you may need to pack a cool box loaded with nutritious foods before you leave for a long trip.
Candy bars, soda, and donuts may give you a quicky sugar rush, but in a few hours, you’ll find your energy levels crashing, which could have disastrous results. Fortunately, there are many nutritious and delicious foods available to help combat fatigue. Whole nuts, lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables will keep your energy levels stable avoiding the energy peaks and valleys that come with lurching from one sugary stimulant to the next.
Sure, drinking more water may result in more bathroom breaks, but it will also ensure that you get to your destination more safely. Staying hydrated (and this means drinking lots of water, not soda or coffee), is a vital way of preventing not just fatigue but the headaches and muscle cramps that can strike when you spend hours in a tense, sitting position.
Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake
A cup of coffee can be a great way of giving your day a perky and energized start, just as a cool beer at the end of a long day’s driving can be a great way to relax. However, when caffeine and alcohol are used regularly, they can have major effects on your metabolism as you lurch from stimulant to depressant. This can result in not just increased fatigue but other serious health issues.
Caffeine is metabolized quickly and blocks the receptors for adenosine, which your body produces throughout your day. As this adenosine builds up, the feeling of tiredness increases, and while the receptors are blocked by caffeine, you feel perky and awake but the effect is fleeting. After a while, your brain makes more receptors, causing you to feel that you need more caffeine. Caffeine also increases the amount of adrenaline that is released into your body, which can increase your blood pressure, causing nervousness that may cause you to drive erratically.
Alcohol, on the other hand, affects the brain by altering its levels of neurotransmitters which control thought processes, influencing your behavior and emotions in ways that may cause you to make poor decisions. It also interferes with the medulla, which may cause drowsiness.
Take power naps
If you’re taking your beauty on a road trip or to an inter-state convention then you may need to put some serious miles (and driving hours) on the clock. If you’re going to be driving long into the night, you may want to stop for a power nap.
You may think that a short break for a nap is a waste of time, but the National Sleep Foundation is quick to extol the virtues of napping. Even a 20-minute power nap can restore your alertness and reduce your risk of accidents and mistakes.
Whatever solutions you choose, ensuring that you take steps to rest and stay healthy can avert some very serious risks.