When you go out driving it’s important to remember just how potentially dangerous this activity can be. It’s an every day occurrence, and you might drive to work or to the shops every day. You start to think of driving as ‘no big deal’, but the reality is that you are still controlling a massive piece of machinery capable of traveling at immensely high speeds. Even more reason to figure out how to stay alert while driving.
It’s easy to forget that driving is potentially dangerous, but this is exactly the reason why there are so many strict laws and rules on the road to avoid distractions in the car, and to boost alertness behind the wheel.
In this article we will look at some tips to help you stay more switched on and more responsive when you are driving so that you might be able to avoid accidents and avoid getting into trouble with the law.
How to Stay Alert While Driving – Don’t Drive Tired
This is the first and most important tip. While many of us don’t take being tired too seriously, it’s important to realize that it’s almost as dangerous to drive when you’re exhausted as it is to drink drive. Make sure then that if you are feeling tired you avoid driving or find a way to ‘recharge’ before you set off. If you’re exhausted while you are driving, you may even be at risk of ‘micro sleep’ so pull over somewhere and have a power nap. Tiredness can reduce your reflexes a lot, and this can only do you harm. Your time to stop in case of emergencies will go up and the chances of you crashing into things gets much higher!
How to Stay Alert While Driving – Open Your Window
If you are driving down repetitive roads, like the highway or long country roads, and you have your heating on, things can all get a little soporific. Get some fresh air! Roll your windows down a little, switch your air conditioning up and make the temperature in your car to be appropriate to stay awake and alert. Warm temperatures can help you feel drowsy, colder temperatures keep you active. Avoid lulling yourself to sleep and to keep yourself fresh.
How to Stay Alert While Driving – Listen to Some Upbeat Music
Just like fresh air, occupying your mind with some good tunes really helps keeping your mind active on long and repetitive drives. Choose for something you can sing along with, or something with a good tempo to keep you active. Many choose a good rock song, but even rap and RnB are uptempo enough and engage you into wanting to listen more.
How to Stay Alert While Driving – Avoid Multitasking
You might think that it’s okay to check your phone quickly for that text message or notification that just came in. You might be thinking that when you talk on hands-free when you’re driving it will not interfere with your concentration, but actually, studies have shown that our attention drops significantly whenever we attempt to do more than one thing at once, especially while driving.
To avoid letting this happen, make sure that you set everything up as needed before you set off, and that you don’t take any calls or change CDs until you’ve stopped. Have any passenger do any other tasks for you, and don’t put yourself at risk. Stay focussed on what is important!
How to Stay Alert While Driving – Keep Your Windshield Clear
Even if you’re as awake and focussed as humanly possible, this won’t help you much if you can’t see out of your windshield. Make sure then that you keep your auto glass as clean as you possibly can, and that you quickly deal with small chips and cracks – these can worsen over time, and even a tiny blemish can be enough to cause a distraction.
How to Stay Alert While Driving – Move Your Eyes
Sitting in one place, looking straight ahead, focused just on the car in front, is a sure recipe for getting bored and not paying attention. Our eyes soon “glaze over” if we don’t keep them moving.
So here’s a straightforward strategy. Keep the eyes moving. The road ahead (far distance, middle distance and closer to), the traffic behind (using all three mirrors), the speed and other instruments, will all be important at times, so keep scanning. Pick up road signs, road markings, people on the pavements and traffic in adjacent lanes. Never again will another car appear “out of nowhere.”
How to Stay Alert While Driving – Tighten Your Breaks
This is a tip not so much helping you to stay alert while driving, but it is definitely helping you stay out of sticky situations. You should always ensure that your car drives as responsively as possible that you can stop quickly/change direction in a hurry should you need to. If your brake pads are worn, or they have become sluggish, then take your car to a mechanic and have them tightened, so there’s minimum time between thinking ‘stop’ and coming to a halt.