The Best Ways to Stay Awake While Driving

Picture this: you’re heading home from your daughter’s weekend soccer tournament. You’ve been outside in the heat yelling at the top of your lungs, and inside of your cold, comfortable car, your adrenaline from the last goal has finally wound down. In the rearview mirror, you can see your kids sleeping soundly, laying in a way only a child could without waking up in excruciating back pain. Exhaustion hits you, and in only a few seconds of weakness, you feel the bumps along the side of the road that tell you that you are running off the highway. It jolts you awake, and you realize you could cause a car accident if you don’t figure out how to stay up.

Picture this…

It’s happened to even the best of us. We are out late, or just driving on a long trip, and we find ourselves unable to focus and feeling pretty drowsy. If you’re a passenger, this isn’t usually a big deal, but when you’re sitting behind the wheel of thousands of pounds of metal it can be incredibly dangerous. Many of us don’t mean to be in the position where we are driving late or tired, but it’s inevitable sometimes. Even if you’re exhausted and managing to stay slightly awake, you aren’t as alert as you should be to hazards in the road and other drivers. At some point in time, we’ve all struggled to stay awake while driving, and these tips could be a lifesaver — literally.

Two Car Traffic Accident
Two cars at an accident site | Daniel Bockwoldt/picture alliance via Getty Images

Having another person to talk to can stimulate conversation and keep us awake and alert. While it’s easy to let the other people in the car sleep if they can stay awake enough to maintain a conversation it can help to keep you awake as well. When other people in the car are asleep, we also tend to try and be quieter, which means that instead of jamming out to our favorite songs we keep the radio down low.

Staying awake at the wheel

If you are driving by yourself this is less of a problem, but that also means there is no one to talk to. That also makes it the perfect time to catch up with an old friend or family member. Most modern cars have hands-free phone capabilities, which means it’s just like you’re talking to someone actually in the car.

Family car
Family car | Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

These Safety Features Are a GameChanger

Another tip, besides the obvious choice to get caffeine, is to keep the cabin temperature slightly uncomfortable. Roll the windows down, regardless of the temperature outside, and the fresh air can help to keep you awake and alert. When we get too comfortable, it’s easy to fall asleep, and even though it might be unpleasant to be too hot or too cold, the discomfort can help to keep us from falling asleep.

Staying awake at the wheel can be hard, and if you are struggling, then sometimes it’s better to pull over and take some time to rest. Even an hour or two of sleep can help you feel more refreshed and keep you from getting into a car accident.