7 tips to avoid falling asleep at the wheel
Tips and strategies to prevent the possibility of falling asleep while driving.
The act of driving is characterized by making us fall into an illusion: we believe we are much more powerful than we are, and we may even forget that at those speeds, we are very vulnerable.
Somehow, spending time watching the scenery rushing past us leads us to assume that this is normal, that we are made to move that way. But that's not quite the case.
In fact, in most cases where we drive a car, falling asleep for two seconds is enough to have a traffic accident. Moreover, it is estimated that around 25% of traffic accidents in Spain are related to sleep or fatigue. It is the vehicle that is made to travel at these speeds; we must adjust to these mechanics as best we can, assuming much greater risks than we usually face on foot.
That is why, in this article, we will take a look at the most useful tricks to avoid falling asleep while driving, in order to reduce the risks of falling asleep.The most useful tricks to avoid falling asleep while driving, in order to reduce the probabilities of suffering an accident.
Tips and strategies to avoid falling asleep while driving.
It is necessary to emphasize that the fact of falling asleep at the wheel is in itself, without giving rise to fatalities, considered serious negligence from the legal point of viewIt is the driver's responsibility to be aware of his condition and not to expose himself and others to such dangers.
That is why here we are not talking about how to manage a risk that affects us individually, but one that can affect many other people inside and outside our vehicle, and that even has social implications.
With this in mind, it is worth knowing some key ideas to avoid falling asleep at the wheel and avoid accidents; below you can find some of the most effective ones.
1. Set yourself a clear sleep schedule
This is by far the most effective trick to avoid falling asleep at the wheel: make sure you sleep the necessary hours without interruptions, in a quiet and dark place. To do this, it is crucial that you it is crucial that you control your schedule well and establish protocols to avoid the temptation to stay up late.
In this sense, something very simple and effective is to print your schedule, leave it in a place in the house that you can usually see, and include in the days of the week a start and end time for the preparations before going to bed: cleaning the dishes, brushing your teeth, turning off the lights, etc. In this way you will not have the circumstances that time flies by and you realize that you have already missed the time to go to bed, leading you to ignore the schedule as ineffective.
2. Be alert to sleep signals.
It is very important to to "monitor" your state of consciousness in order to prevent accidents.. To do this, it is good to take into account criteria as objective as possible, so that you are very clear if sleep can play a trick on you.
The main symptoms of drowsiness are the following (although they need not all be present at the same time):
- Itchy or stinging eyes
- General tiredness
- A tendency to yawn several times in a row.
On the other hand, there are other warning signs that indicate an urgent problem and the need to stop as soon as possible:
- You are surprised to notice that you have been lowering the eyelids of your eyes until half of your field of vision is blocked.
- You find it difficult to vocalize when speaking.
- You notice that on more than one occasion you have been on the verge of accidentally driving into the shoulder or the lane on your left.
- Along with the dream you experience "pins and needles" that seem to come from inside your head.
Keep this in mind so that you know when to stop relying on all the other tricks and when it's time to go to sleep as soon as possible, in an emergency stop.
3. Make strategic stops
These stops of about 10 to 20 minutes are only to rest your muscles and your mind so that fatigue does not feed your sleepiness. so that fatigue does not feed your drowsiness.. It is advisable to make them at least every two hours, even if you think you are not sleepy, and especially if you are traveling at night.
It is necessary to differentiate these stops from those you make to sleep in cases of urgency or when your schedule includes this measure. In such cases, it is in your interest to dedicate to sleep not just a few minutes, but the hours necessary to stop being sleepy.
If you only sleep for a quarter of an hour or a little more, you will most likely remain in a state of excessive sleepiness or even accentuate the problem, depending on the stage of sleep you were in when you woke up. In any case, it is much better to stop and sleep than not to sleep at all, it is much better to stop and sleep than not to do so in a state of sleep that makes it difficult to drive..
4. Be aware of the most dangerous hours
Statistically, it is considered that the time slot in which there is a greater risk of falling asleep while driving is between 3 and 5 a.m. and between 2 and 4 p.m. It is believed that this has to do, on the one hand, with the monotony and lack of stimuli associated with traveling at night, and in the case of the afternoon time slot, with the drowsiness favored by digestion.
Keeping this risk factor in mind is important to avoid falling asleep at the wheel, but this should not serve as an excuse to lower your guard during the rest of the day.
5. Make sure to maintain a correct temperature in the vehicle.
Phenomena such as exposure to high temperatures can make us feel sleepy: our body asks us to rest to lower the temperature.Our body asks us to rest in order to lower our body temperature. Therefore, try to make good use of the air conditioning or car windows (although lowering them does not necessarily lower the temperature inside the vehicle, it will allow you to better dissipate the heat from your body).
Singing is a way to get you involved in a task that requires a task that requires coordination but at the same time does not involve too much distraction, as this task makes use of your body heat.This task makes use of parts of the brain linked to movements that you have already internalized. Of course, you'd better know the songs.
7. Have a conversation with the co-driver
If you have a co-driver, take advantage of him/her to help you focus on the here and now through conversation. It will also help you to know if the moment comes when you are so sleepy that you have to go to plan B and make an emergency stop to sleep.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)