Because most people drive on a regular basis, it’s easy to forget just how dangerous it can be to be behind the wheel of a car. Even when you’re wide awake and aware of your surroundings, accidents can still happen. But when you’re not as alert as you should be, you increase the odds of something dangerous taking place.
So to help ensure that you’re always in the right state of mind when you’re driving, here are three tips for being more alert behind the wheel.
Watch For Warning Signs
It’s not always immediately obvious that you’re not paying as much attention to the road or aren’t as alert as you should be. So to help you better recognize when this is happening, it’s wise to know what warning signs you should be on the lookout for.
According to Danielle Pacheco, a contributor to SleepFoundation.org, if you find that you’re yawning or blinking a lot, can’t remember exactly how you got to where you are, are following too closely to the cars around you, or have started to drift in your lane, you should acknowledge the fact that you likely aren’t as alert as you should be. To regain your alertness, consider taking a break from driving until you’re able to concentrate and focus on the road completely. This might mean having to take a nap or do something else to wake yourself up a bit.
Keep Things Cool
While it’s good to be comfortable when you’re behind the wheel, you don’t want to be so comfortable that you forget the gravity of what you’re doing as you drive. The last thing you want to have happen when you’re behind the wheel is to get in an accident with a cyclist, pedestrian, or other vehicle simply because you weren’t taking your driving seriously.
One thing you can do to ensure that you don’t get too comfortable while driving, according to Vikas Agrawal, a contributor to LifeHack.org, is to keep the temperature in your car cool. If you have air conditioning, you can turn this on to help keep your attention both mentally and physically. Or, if you’d rather, you can roll down your windows so you’re getting fresh air along with a cool breeze.
Even if you think you’re great at multitasking, if you’re driving, you should only be focused on driving. According to the Cleveland Clinic, even something like eating, which you may think will give you energy, can actually make you more sleepy behind the wheel as well as distracting you from the task at hand. So although you might think you could do something else while driving, it’s best to avoid anything but driving when you’re behind the wheel.
If you’ve noticed that you have a problem with staying alert when you’re driving, consider using the tips mentioned above to help you address this issue.