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2.23 – Staying Alert and Fit to Drive

Driving a vehicle for long hours is tiring. Even the best of drivers will become less alert. However, there are things that good drivers do to help stay alert and safe.

2.23.1 – Be Ready to Drive

Get Enough Sleep. Sleep is not like money. You cannot save it up ahead of time and you cannot borrow it. But, just as with money, you can go into debt with it. If you do not sleep enough, you “owe” more sleep to yourself. This debt can only be paid off by sleeping. You cannot overcome it with willpower, and it won’t go away by itself. The average person needs seven or eight hours of sleep every 24 hours. Leaving on a long trip when you are already tired is dangerous. If you have a long trip scheduled, make sure that you get enough sleep before you go.

Schedule Trips Safely. Try to arrange your schedule so you are not in “sleep debt” before a long trip. Your body gets used to sleeping during certain hours. If you are driving during those hours, you will be less alert. If possible, try to schedule trips for the hours you are normally awake. Many heavy motor vehicle accidents occur between midnight and 6 a.m. Tired drivers can easily fall asleep at these times, especially if they do not regularly drive at those hours. Trying to push on and finish a long trip at these times can be very dangerous.

Exercise Regularly. Resistance to fatigue and improved sleep are among the benefits of regular exercise. Try to incorporate exercise into your daily life. Instead of sitting and watching TV in your sleeper, walk or jog a few laps around the parking lot. A little bit of daily exercise will give you energy throughout the day.

Eat Healthy. It is often hard for drivers to find healthy food. But with a little extra effort, you can eat healthy, even on the road. Try to find restaurants with healthy, balanced meals. If you must eat at fast-food restaurants, pick low-fat items. Another simple way to reduce your caloric intake is to eliminate fattening snacks. Instead, try fruit or vegetables.

Avoid Medication. Many medicines can make you sleepy. Those that do have a label warning against operating vehicles or machinery. The most common medicine of this type is an ordinary cold pill. If you have to drive with a cold, you are better off suffering from the cold than from the effects of the medicine.

Visit Your Doctor. Regular checkups literally can be lifesavers. Illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and skin and colon cancer can be detected easily and treated if found in time.

You should consult your physician or a local sleep disorder center if you suffer from frequent daytime sleepiness, have difficulty sleeping at night, take frequent naps, fall asleep at strange times, snore loudly, gasp and choke in your sleep, and/or wake up feeling as though you have not had enough sleep.

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Question #186 (1 of 2)

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Many medicines can make you sleepy. Those that do have a label warning against operating vehicles or machinery. The most common medicine of this type is:

  • Skin cream
  • NoDoz
  • Cold medicine
  • Antibiotics

Avoid Medication. Many medicines can make you sleepy. Those that do have a label warning against operating vehicles or machinery. The most common medicine of this type is an ordinary cold pill. If you have to drive with a cold, you are better off suffering from the cold than from the effects of the medicine.

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Question #187 (2 of 2)

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To prevent sleepiness, try to schedule trips:

  • Early in the week
  • For the hours you are normally awake
  • In light traffic
  • During the night

Schedule Trips Safely. Try to arrange your schedule so you are not in “sleep debt” before a long trip. Your body gets used to sleeping during certain hours. If you are driving during those hours, you will be less alert. If possible, try to schedule trips for the hours you are normally awake. Many heavy motor vehicle accidents occur between midnight and 6 a.m. Tired drivers can easily fall asleep at these times, especially if they do not regularly drive at those hours. Trying to push on and finish a long trip at these times can be very dangerous.

Driving at night can be nice because of the reduced traffic, but it's difficult to stay awake and alert. Drivers often report becoming sleepy at sunrise, also. Be careful about forcing yourself to drive when you're normally asleep.
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