(6) Keep your co-pilot by your side. It’s often called the buddy system, and for good reason. When you travel long distances by car, don’t drive alone. Having someone next to you in the vehicle (preferably a driver) can help keep you awake and alert by talking with you, monitoring for any signs of fatigue, and switching off driving with you when necessary.
(7) Avoid taking medications and alcohol. Many medications list drowsiness as a side-effect and come with the caution to not use them before driving. Combine medications and alcohol and the effect increases. If you regularly take medications that cause drowsiness, forego taking them until you arrive at your destination – or have someone else drive. And never consume alcohol before getting behind the wheel.
(8) Caffeine helps – for a while. While drinking coffee won’t keep you awake if your body is ready to shut down, having a couple of cups of caffeine will provide temporary alertness for several hours. That could be sufficient to allow you to get to your intended destination safely.
(9) Take a nap if you’re tired. When you start to exhibit signs of sleepiness such as repeated yawning, trouble keeping your head up, missing turns, traffic signs and exits, difficulty focusing, repeated blinking, inability to clearly remember the last few miles driven, swerving, tailgating and/or hitting rumble strips, it’s time to pull off the road. Find a safe place and take a 15-20 minute nap. Just be sure you’re careful about excessive drowsiness when you wake up. Here’s where those two cups of coffee might help you regain alertness.
(10) Break up the trip to include an extra overnight or two. If you’re driving solo, or don’t have a switch-off driver, and have a long distance to travel, it may be advisable to add an extra overnight both ways to ensure you’re not driving when you’re too sleepy to do so safely.