Driving over the river and through the woods for Christmas? These tips can help you avoid highway hypnosis and stay safe.
It’s easy to stay awake at the start of a road trip when excitement and energy is high (and you haven’t yet attacked the snacks you packed). But a few hours into the long drive? Fatigue can set in and cause highway hypnosis.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers. So how can you stay safe and have fun along the way? Try these tips.
Every two, switcheroo.
Every 2 hours, switch it up. If you’re alone on your long drive, plan an exit and take a walk, or take an exercise break at a park, rest area, or some other roadside attraction. If you have someone with you, switch drivers every 2 to 3 hours. And ideally, take a 15-minute break at each stop and limit driving to 8 hours a day.
Eat sunflower seeds.
Researchers have studied the sunflower seed and drowsy driver connection with truck drivers and shift workers who munched a variety of things to stay alert—and they swore by the seeds. One researcher even said that the seeds worked better than an energy drink (there’s no rebound effect) on a long haul. It’s thought that’s because of their vitamin B-1, or thiamine, content, which helps you derive energy from food.
Journal your experience.
Bring a notebook and jot down notes about your trip each time you make a stop. Write about things you saw on the way, the games you played, or something new you learned about your passengers. The creative task will help you stay mentally alert and engaged as you go from stop to stop. Plus, you’ll have a great keepsake of the trip when you get home.
Enjoy ear candy.
AAA member Gary Arndt, who is a travel photographer based in Michigan, has driven over 100,000 miles across North America to take award-winning photos. His advice: Listen to audio books and podcasts. “You need something which engages your mind,” Arndt says. “I usually save up my podcasts for road trips and then listen to them all in succession.” And of course, stop to take photos along the way.
Be prepared when it comes to kids.
When riding long distances with kids, it’s important to plan ahead to keep all the occupants safe—and sane. Consider bringing kids’ favorite books, comics and magazines to keep them occupied. Also plan stops to keep boredom at bay, share meals together, sightsee and give kids a chance to burn off energy. Read more of our top tips for surviving a long drive with kids.
So gas up, snack up, friend up, hit the road for your long drive, and stay safe! The journey really can be better than the destination.
Please, no texting and driving; use a designated texter. Remember your phone charger. Share lots of love and patience. Relax and enjoy the trip. You will get there.
Do you share the road?
Originally posted by American Automobile Association.