like a stunning LED display, for instance) can keep you awake and alert while you’re driving at night, but sometimes you’ve got a long, unchanging drive with nothing much to hold your attention, and drowsiness can set in. This is one of the most dangerous times to be driving, as driving while sleepy can be just as risky and perilous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The safest thing to do when this happens is to pull over and not drive until you feel fully wakeful again, even if that means taking a nap in your car! If you’re not sure when tiredness means you’re too sleepy to drive, here are some pointers you can refer to in order to make sure that falling asleep behind the wheel is something that never happens to you.
1. The eyes have it
If your eyelids feel heavy or droopy, if you can barely keep them open, if you find yourself rubbing them constantly, you really should stop driving. Your visual perception of the road and the other cars on it is of vital importance to safe driving, so if your sight is compromised by fatigue, that’s a sign that you can’t drive any more for now.
2. Drifting thoughts
Is your mind wandering? Are you slipping into a dreamlike state, having disconnected thoughts, or losing your ability to focus and concentrate? Your visual awareness is only useful if you’ve got the brainpower to process what you’re seeing, so if your brain is having a hard time staying focused on driving, you definitely need to pull over and catch a few Z’s.
3. Listen to your body
When you can’t hold your head up straight, you’re yawning, you feel restless and uncomfortable, and everything aches, your body is telling you it desperately needs rest. If you find yourself drifting into the rumble strip (or, worse, the next lane over), there’s no surer sign that you need to stop driving for a while and recuperate.
Some other things you need to take into account where drowsy driving is concerned is your passengers. They can help you stay alert and may be able to warn you if it looks to them like you’re too tired to drive, but they’ll be no help if they’re asleep too, so if they pass out, you might want to pull over and nap with them. Remember, too, that being tired when you’re driving can interfere with your ability to care for any children you might be driving with. You need to be alert enough to make sure they’re strapped in and safe and that your car seats are installed properly. Probably the best way to make sure you don’t fall asleep while driving is to get plenty of sleep before you start your trip and plan it out so that you’re not stuck driving for too long between opportunities to rest. Your life isn’t worth shaving a few hours off your trip, so rest when you need to!