Whether you are heading out on a summertime road trip, or just making your daily commute at home, it is important to be awake and alert at the wheel. There are so many distractions and potential hazards out there on the road today, making it more important than ever before for Massachusetts drivers to be aware of what’s around them and alert while driving.
The AAA Foundation published a study that showed that over 40 percent of drivers admitted to falling asleep by the wheel. To bring awareness to this very serious issue, Borden Insurance Agency, your New Bedford auto insurance provider, along with other driver safety programs, are sharing safe driver tips and other information about drowsy driving.
It is never a good idea to drive if you feel tired or worn out. Medical science has proven that you can’t force yourself to stay awake. The best tip is to always err on the side of caution if you feel that you are too tired to drive. Dozing off, even for just a few seconds, is enough time to drive off the road or veer across the center divide line and into traffic.
#1 – Don’t Rely on Caffeine
Many people believe that chugging a cup of black coffee is the best solution for tired and weary drivers. The truth is, caffeine can take as long as 20 minutes or more to kick in and even then, the effects of it aren’t reliable enough to trust with your life. In fact, there are some people who experience an opposite reaction from drinking coffee and it can actually calm them down and make them sleepy.
#2 – Forget Energy Drinks
A lot of marketing dollars have been spent on promoting energy drinks to consumers. Massachusetts drivers should not rely on the marketing “promises” of these products, many of which contain large amounts of sugar, which could result in a “crash” effect an hour or more later after consuming them. You don’t want to be behind the wheel of a car when a sugar crash takes hold of your system.
#3 – Don’t Nap Before a Drive
Some people think that taking a nap before a trip will help them be more alert and awake. Unfortunately, not all naps are created equal. Sleeping too long can lower your response time and make you even more groggy than you would have been without the nap. A 15-20 minute power nap will refresh your body and mind much more than 1-2 hours of afternoon sleep. If you feel yourself drifting off at all during a drive, pull over immediately.
#4 – Chew Gum
Medical studies show that there is a direct correlation between chewing gum and increased brain activity and awareness. Keeping your mind busy with a task, such as chewing on gum, has been proven to keep the mind alert – even while driving. Pick out a sugar-free gum flavor of your choice and have it with you during commutes and long trips to help keep your focus.
#5 – Stay Hydrated
One of the #1 causes of sleepiness in the middle of the day is dehydration. One of the best safe driver tips is to have a water bottle on hand at all times during a long drive. Even just 8 oz. of water can help to improve your hydration and increase alertness. One of the signs of dehydration is a headache around the eyes or above the eyebrows. If you experience either one of these symptoms, reach for a bottle of water and make sure you are hydrated before continuing your trip.
#6 – Eat Healthy
One of the worst things you can do is to reach for fast food while on a road trip. A nice, greasy burger and fries may sound like the perfect driving food, it will leave you sluggish and tired. Bring along fresh fruit, raw veggies, whole grain snacks and other healthy foods for your trip to keep your energy up and your blood sugar on an even keel.
#7 – Musical Stimulation
Studies also show that listening to fast-tempo music is a great way to keep your brain stimulated. Listen to music that you like and might even want to sing along with as you make your way down the road. Stay away from classical music and other “sleepy time” tunes that might have an opposite effect.
#8 – Bring a Buddy
Sharing your commute with a passenger that is awake and alert can also be helpful. Stimulating conversation or discussion while driving can keep your brain focused on the task at hand and make you much less likely to get drowsy or sleepy.
Safe Driver Tips
For more safety tips for Massachusetts drivers, speak with your auto insurance agent. Your New Bedford auto insurance provider can give you a lot of great tips and information to help you drive safe and stay safe on the road. Speak with your auto insurance agent about safety gear, tools and other items that you can carry with you on a road trip or long commute that can be helpful in an emergency.
Review your New Bedford auto insurance policy with your agent to make sure that you are properly insured for all situations and occasions. In addition to providing auto insurance, safe driver tips and support to Massachusetts drivers, your auto insurance agent can give you information about driver safety courses that can help you be an even better driver out on the road.