After a long winter, you’re looking forward to your summer vacation. The beers are packed, the cell phones are charged, and your plan is to drive straight through to make the most of your days off. Let the fun begin! If this sounds like you, think again. The best road trip begins with safe driving.
I have spent a good part of my career handling truck accidents. Having been involved in the aftermath of many accidents, I can tell you that drowsy driving leads to the same devastating effects as drunk driving and distracted driving. In the professional truck industry, there is an awareness of the dangers of drowsy driving, however, not so much among vacation-goers. Driving too long while on vacation is all too common. Drowsy drivers are less able to pay attention on the road, have a slow reaction time, and a reduced ability to make good decisions… all very similar to the effects of drunk driving.
If you are yawning or blinking frequently, having difficulty remembering the past few miles driven, missed your exit, drifting from your lane, or hit a rumble strip on the side of the road, you may be suffering from driver fatigue and should take a break.
According to the CDC, one in twenty-five drivers reported to having fallen asleep at the wheel in the past 30 days. Driver fatigue is a major problem and laws are in place to protect citizens. Professional truck drivers are legally limited to 8 hours of consecutive driving before taking a break. They keep driving log books with how long they have driven and how much they have slept. Vacation-goers need to be aware of their safe driving limits, as well.
How to avoid driver fatigue:
Limit your time at the wheel
Every few hours, get out and stretch. On long drives, take turns with a partner if possible.
Eat and hydrate
Make sure your body and mind are well-fed and hydrated, so your concentration is not impaired.
Get plenty of sleep
Like lack of food and water, lack of sleep makes a person tired, weak and unfocused. Get at least seven hours of sleep before you venture to spend hours at the wheel.
Break the trip up into reasonable driving time blocks
Instead of trying to drive straight through split the trip up into less demanding time blocks. This will take less energy out of you and be less stressful.
Don’t drive, Ride
Take public transportation.
Now that you have checked driving safety awareness off of your vacation to-do list, check out Travel & Leisure’s list of Best Road Trips in the USA , and have a wonderful vacation touring America!
Travel & Leisure’s list of Best Road Trips in the USA
- U.S. 1, Florida Keys
- U.S. Route 9, New York
- Hana Highway, Maui
- Route 100, Vermont
- Columbia River Scenic Highway, Oregon
- Pacific Coast Highway, California
- Cascade Loop, Washington
- Texas Hill Country Bluebonnet Tour
- Anchorage to Valdez, Alaska
- Acadia All American Road, Maine
- Santa Fe/Taos Loop, New Mexico
- Merritt Parkway, Connecticut
- Great River Road, Minnesota to Louisiana
- Mohawk Trail, Massachusetts
- Ohio River Scenic Byway, Cincinnati to Louisville