Stay safe on festive journeys

It’s the time of year when many people visit relatives, socialise more, and travel for parties. If you aren’t accustomed to travelling late at night, it’s even more essential that you focus on your driving and stop in a safe place if you find yourself driving drowsy.

According to the National Highway Safety Administration, you may believe that you can stop yourself from falling asleep when you are driving drowsy, but you can’t. You may not even know you’ve dozed off. This is more likely to happen if you are sleep-deprived, driving long distances without rest breaks, travelling at night, driving alone, riding long rural highways, taking medicine that causes sleepiness, or drinking alcohol.

Top recommendations for staying alert on drives:

  • Never drink and drive
  • Be properly rested, with enough sleep before attempting a long driver
  • If possible, don’t drive long distances alone.
  • Don’t begin a trip so late that you’re driving when you’re usually asleep
  • Watch your posture. Keep your head up and don’t slouch.
  • Take a break at least every 2 hours. Stop in a place that is safe and well-populated to walk around and stretch.
  • Drink caffeinated coffee if you can have caffeine
  • Open a window for a blast of cool, fresh air periodically.
  • Signs of sleepiness

    You may be about to doze off if you:

  • Can’t remember the last few miles you drove.
  • Experience wandering or disconnected thoughts.
  • Have difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open.
  • Have trouble keeping your head up.
  • Drift from your lane or hit a rumble strip.
  • Yawn repeatedly.
  • If you find you yourself experiencing any of the above, it’s important to pull over to a safe place. Turn off your car, lock your doors, and nap for 15 minutes to 20 minutes in a busy, well-lit rest area or truck stop. If you’re seriously tired, a nap may not be enough, in which case you should stop and rest somewhere properly. Resuming your journey only when you’ve had enough sleep.

    Data from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents show fatigue can be a factor in up to 20 per cent of all road collisions, and up to 25 per cent of fatal and serious crashes.

    Neil Worth, of breakdown and road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist, said: “A fatigue-related crash is about 50 per cent more likely to result in death or serious injury, simply because a driver who has fallen asleep at the wheel will be unable to reduce speed or change direction to avoid a collision. The consequences can be devastating.”

    Worth continues: “You’ll know when fatigue is affecting you. It doesn’t just take you by surprise. Resist the urge to press on and take a proper break.”

    festive journey