LONG distance driving can be a huge strain on those who undertake it regularly, but with some careful preparation and planning, the stress involved can be minimised.
Amy Harris, Community Manager for Vehicle Tracking Experts, offers tips to help you stay alert during a long journey.
Before you hit the road
Just the thought of a long distance journey can sometimes feel tiring, so don’t be caught out by a lack of sleep on the day. There may not always be enough time to prepare a couple of days in advance, but if you can, fitting in a couple of hours extra sleep over a couple of nights before your journey can really help you stay alert on the road.
Of course, being prepared also means carrying out a number of checks to ensure you are setting off in the safest possible way:
- Do you have reliable tyres, windscreen wash and other necessary equipment?
- Is your breakdown cover up to date?
- Do you have a fully charged phone, and a spare charger in your vehicle?
- Have you checked the weather forecast?
Map your journey
You may have completed the journey before, but do you know what alternative routes are available to you?
There’s no substitute for carefully planning your route beforehand, for stopping to check directions or alter your route halfway doesn’t merely cause holdups, it can also result in unnecessary stress.
Also remember that rushing and feeling stressed may lead to feelings of agitation which could adversely affect your blood pressure levels and/or driving. Setting off slightly earlier than you need to, and having a reliable Sat Nav to hand, will help keep you calm and in control.
If possible, back up your resources with a good old fashioned paper map that’s up to date and easily readable.
Plan your stops
Any long distance journey should involve regular stops along your route.
Service stations are dotted about on all of the major motorways, and getting out of your vehicle to have something to eat and drink, as well as a quick walk around, will refresh you for the next part of your journey.
Nowadays, service stations will often include mini supermarkets where you can buy items such as bottled water, snacks and other products that can help keep you going when driving. If your journey involves an overnight stay, check out which ones have hotels attached before you set off.
Everything in moderation
It might seem like a good idea to load up on caffeine and sugar, but overdoing it could lead to a significant drop in your blood sugar levels, or an overall feeling of lethargy.
In order to avoid a lapse in your concentration and avoid dehydration, keep plenty of bottled water to hand.
Other snacks that are not loaded with sugar and refined carbohydrates will keep your concentration levels high and help to avoid those slumps you can often feel later on in the day.
Eating big meals before a long journey may cause tiredness too; better to eat little and often where possible.
Better late than never
Nobody wants to arrive late at their destination, but putting yourself at risk is not an option. Even if you’ve followed all the given advice for staying alert and avoiding tiredness, if you still feel tired or sleepy, stop and take a break.
Even a short stop for a quick stretch of your legs can work wonders when it comes to refreshing your mind and body and help keep you safe on the remainder of your journey. If stopping isn’t an immediate option, open the windows and allow some fresh air to circulate in the vehicle.
Also, check your posture and maintain a good position whilst driving, as sitting incorrectly at the wheel will leave you with aches and pains and feeling drained of energy quite quickly.
Don’t become a statistic
Long distance drivers are regularly caught out by poor planning, which in turn can lead to accidents and other misery along the way.
Good preparation will help keep you alert in the most adverse of conditions, and keep you safe on the road whatever the length of your journey.