Drowsy driving is one of the most common occurrences for those who undergo prolonged road trips—and it’s also one of the most dangerous. Though sitting behind the wheel of your car for long periods doesn’t sound like a tiring activity, driving is both physically and mentally demanding. In fact, driving always requires the driver to stay alert in order to keep themselves and the drivers around them safe. Unfortunately, fatigue and tiredness aren’t always easy to notice—especially when you drive on your own. Learn the tell-tale signs you need to take a break when driving and ensure that you are the safest driver you can be.
Crucial Signs of Tiredness
Several occurrences such as poor sleep, stress, overwork, and lack of exercise can bring about general fatigue. Driving will agitate many of these factors, and they can increase the rate that you become and stay drained. As such, it’s crucial that you learn how you respond to feeling tired and how to identify when you’ve reached your limit. While tiredness can look different for each person, these are some of the most common signs to remain aware of on the road:
Daydreaming and Spacing Out
In the case of driving, the brain often becomes fatigued before the body does. This is due to the amount of attention that you need to give to the road and how many environmental conditions you need to respond to while driving. When the brain begins to wear down, it’s common for you to start spacing out and letting your mind wander. You could start thinking about miscellaneous things, or you could even forget where you are or what you’re doing. Since many people can’t always tell that they’ve lost their focus, it’s important that you occasionally try to remember the last several miles of the drive to bring it back to the task at hand.
If you find that you tend to space out when driving long distances alone, consider bringing a friend along for the ride. Simply having another person in the vehicle with you can automatically keep you more alert through conversation. In addition, bringing another driver along will allow you to switch out every few hours—this gives you the rest you need before returning to the driver’s seat.
Becoming Distracted Easily
Spacing out isn’t the only mental sign that you’re too tired to drive. Fatigued brains also have the tendency to get distracted by minor simulants, such as something along the side of the road or their phone ringing. Even if these distractions don’t last for very long, they still take up precious seconds that you need to react to a hazard. Unfortunately, any number of things can occur while your distracted, which makes it essential that you remain focused so that you have enough time to react.
For those who become distracted easily, it’s recommended to keep your goals in mind while on a long drive. These goals could be anything from when you want to arrive at your destination to how often you want to stop for food. It’s also beneficial to set small checkpoints for yourself where you can stop to rest. Regularly replenishing some of your energy along the way with food, water, and rest can help you fight off these tired feelings.
Your Driving Changes
Another key sign that you need to take a break when driving is your driving skills noticeably deteriorate. Just like how road rage can affect your driving, fatigue can change how you perceive the road and how you react to it. Some examples of this include slower response time and reduced control of the wheel. This can also cause you to follow other vehicles too closely or even drift into different lanes in extreme cases. It’s crucial that you not only learn how to stay calm in traffic, but also how to keep yourself focused and aware while driving.
Some effective ways to improve your driving focus is by resupplying your body with energy. Stop for regular breaks, or continuously snack and drink water in the vehicle. Keeping your energy up will help prolong your driving stamina and reduce the overall effects of tiredness.
Feeling Uncomfortable and Tired
No sign is quite as clear as simply feeling tired. By the time you feel knackered, it’s usually apparent that you should pull over for some rest. Symptoms of fatigue often include dry eyes, head nodding, yawning, and a feeling of stiff muscles while in the driver’s seat. If you experience these things, you shouldn’t try to push through it, as this can make you more tired. Instead, it’s more effective to pull over at a rest stop and reenergize yourself with food, fresh air, and maybe even a nap.
How to Respond to the Signs
If you happen to notice any of these signs while out on the road, it’s critical that you find a good place to stop and get rejuvenated. Neglecting to do so can create a potentially dangerous situation for you and other drivers. Fortunately, this is exactly why truck stops were made. Whether you’re a trucker or a vacationer, truck stops offer various useful amenities and supplies to get you rested and back on your way. Some stops might even include showers, laundry services, and recreation areas to loosen up your aching muscles. You can also stock up on additional supplies at their convenience stores to ensure you have everything you need to get to your destination safely.
Standard car drivers aren’t the only people who experience driving fatigue. In fact, semi-truck drivers are often subject to many of these same signs while they’re out on a haul. That’s why at Unitruck, we aim to take one more worry out of each job by supplying truckers with quality truck mirrors aftermarket and other necessary components. By providing you with these products to keep your field of vision clear, we aim to give you a safer, and less stressful, driving experience that leaves you time for some much-needed rest as a result.