- top tips
5 tips to fight driver fatigue
Updated 12 Mar 2021
My first car was an old Kingswood ute. I was so excited when I picked it up and drove the six hours home.
I wanted to show my best mate so, the next day, I jumped in and drove the three hours to her house.
Part way there, I nodded off and had a little microsleep. When I woke up, I was sliding sideways heading across the table drain and through a nearby fence tailgate first.
Within my first 12 hours of owning my new ute, I had managed to scratch every single panel.
I was not happy, but I was very lucky.
You don’t have to be on a cross country road trip to start feeling a little sleepy behind the wheel.
You might have had a big day at work, been pulling some all-nighters studying or be a little under the weather with the flu. A microsleep can happen 10 metres or 1,000kms from home.
When your attention starts to wander and you feel even slightly drowsy, follow my 5 ways to fight driver fatigue.
- Fresh air. Oxygen is key to staying alert so crack a window down or take the air con off recirculate to keep the O2 juices flowing through your ride.
- Move it. If you need to, take the time to pull over beside the road and stretch your legs. I have been known to jog around the car in each direction a few times, have a little yoga session, or bust out some dance moves.
- Hydrate. Keep up the fluids. This has two benefits. One is obviously to give your brain some lubricant to keep thinking clearly. The other is that no one can sleep through a full bladder! So drink up. Water is as good as anything so don’t think there is any bonus to downing energy drinks - the sugar high can lead to an even bigger low.
- Snack well. If you have a large feed of breads and pastas and sugary snacks you are more likely to need a nap, so stock up on fresh fruit and veg. I love carrots as a go-to snack – they don’t smell, bruise or get too ripe too quickly and as a bonus they require lots of chewing to keep your jaw active.
- Talk about it. Don’t let your passengers sleep if you are feeling drowsy. Wake them up for a deep and meaningful.
If you don’t have a passenger, hook up the hands free and call someone for a yarn.
This is a great time to catch up with old friends or make those boring calls you haven’t gotten around to like the one to your insurance company to update your details.
If my friends call me to say they are driving and feeling droopy, I always take the time to talk to them and crack a few jokes until they feel bright and chirpy again.
Don’t forget you can always share the driving or make alternative plans if it is all too much.
It is better to get home late than never get home at all.
Regardless of where you’re off to, we recommend planning your trip for the best outcome.
Thumbnail image: Pixar Animation Studios
Lara Wilde is the automotive addict showing you how to love your car without getting dirty.
With more than 20 years of driving experience, Lara has made cars her life.
Lara shares her automotive adventures educating and entertaining audiences as a keynote speaker for corporate events and freelance author for a variety of publications.
Driving across the country or on your daily commute to work, Lara can offer you safe, simple, stylish advice for adventures on the road. Look her up on wildedrive.com.