How to Stay Awake and Alert When Driving Tired

by Bianca Garrison - February 25, 2020
Man driving and yawning while driving tired

Maybe you have a long road trip, or you are driving home from a late-night shift or were out late with friends. Whatever your reason may be for driving tired, it is important to understand that this is risky and should be avoided. 

According to the Sleep Foundation, driving while sleepy can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Keep reading to learn what you can do to help you stay alert while driving, and the signs that tell when you need to pull over immediately. 

What You Should Do Before You Get Behind the Wheel

  • Take vitamins. There are specific vitamins, like B’s and C’s, that give you energy. Just make sure to take them with a healthy meal, so your body can properly absorb them. 
  • Take a nap. If possible, take a nap for at least 15 to 30 minutes before you have to drive.
  • Plan your drive so that you are not driving during the time you would usually sleep. 
  • Ask a friend to travel with you. If your drive is going to be lengthy, try the buddy system to split up the driving. 

Tips to Stay Awake While Driving

  • Open your windows to let in some fresh air
  • Turn up the tunes, but not too loud, remember safety should always be your top priority.  
  • Drink some caffeine. Getting a caffeine kick may be what you need to keep safe on the roads. Be mindful of the caffeine crash, especially if you have a long drive. If you don’t drink coffee, try green tea. 
  • Talk to yourself. We know this may sound outrageous, but it works. You can also rub the roof of your mouth with your tongue, pinch your ear lobes, smack or tickle yourself, do whatever you need to do to keep yourself engaged and awake. 
  • Get moving. Pull over and stretch your muscles and get your blood flowing. Do some jumping jacks, run in place, jump up and down. Anything that accelerates your heart rate will invigorate you and keep you awake. Just be sure that you pull over in a safe location. 

When To Pull Over

If you start to experience any of these things, it’s time to pull over!

  • Your head starts to tilt or fall to one side.
  • A driver in another lane honks at you for weaving into their lane
  • Your eyelids feel heavy
  • Your mind keeps wandering
  • You have difficulty keeping your eyes open

If any of these things happen to you, pull over immediately. Make sure that you find a well-lit, safe place to park. Lock your doors and take your keys out of the ignition. Get comfortable and try to sleep for 15 – 20 minutes. 

Always Err on The Side Of Caution

If you are too tired to drive, take a cab, public transportation, or use a rideshare service. Drowsy driving is not safe, and it puts you and others at risk. Staying safe on the roads also means having quality auto insurance that offers round-the-clock protection. If you need help finding high-quality car insurance, contact your local Bluefire agent for more information. 

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