Awake at the Wheel | Shelter Insurance®

Awake at the Wheel: 6 Ways to Avoid Drowsy Driving


Taking a road trip? Driving late at night? Maybe you've had a bad cold and you're taking cold medicine, or you have an early flight and a long drive to the airport. All of those things can lead to drowsy driving, which is just as dangerous as drunk driving. In fact, according to, studies show that being awake for more than 20 hours results in an impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08, the legal limit in all states. In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes each year are caused primarily by drowsy driving, resulting in more than 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries. However, this can be prevented.

How to Stay Awake at the Wheel
If you're driving and find yourself getting tired, try these tips to help you stay awake until you reach your destination: 

  • Pull Over – Even a 20-minute nap can make you more alert. To intensify the effect, drink a cup of coffee before your nap. It takes 45 minutes for caffeine to kick in, so when coffee is paired with a short nap, you'll be good to go when you wake up!
  • Keep it Cool – Open the window to get some fresh air and keep the inside of the car cool. Also try chewing ice cubes and wiping your face with a wet cloth.
  • Walk it Out – Stop somewhere and take a short walk. Sometimes stretching your legs a bit and getting fresh air is exactly what you need to get you going again.
  • Talk it Out – If you have a passenger who isn't sleeping, keep the conversation going if you can.
  • Rock Out – Turn on some music! The faster the beat, the more likely you are to stay awake.
  • Eat a Snack – Just make sure it's healthy, like fruit or nuts. Sugary snacks only work temporarily, and you don't want a sugar crash to cause a car crash.

Ideally, you'll be well-rested before you head out on a long trip, or you won't have to drive late at night when you would normally be asleep. Planning ahead and getting plenty of rest before a change in your normal driving times can help you avoid falling asleep at the wheel. Stay awake and "arrive alive!"