Sometimes even the best-planned road trips will require some long stretches of night driving. We’ve got some great tips for driving at night to get you energized and ready for the journey ahead.
You can prepare for a long drive at night by forming safe driving habits, planning ahead, and managing your environment. Drive safely by leaving plenty of room between you and the car in front of you. Get ready for the long drive by getting plenty of sleep the night before and making sure your headlights are in great condition. Help yourself stay awake by keeping the inside of the car cool and putting on some interesting podcasts.
Whether you are a night owl by nature or not, you may find yourself facing a long stretch of driving through the night, don’t worry! Plan plenty of rest stops to boost your energy and catch yourself before you get too sleepy. You don’t want to wait until you are nodding off at the wheel to quit; know your limits and stay safe.
1. Use your headlights
You’ve got a long night of driving ahead of you, so let’s get you prepared with these simple tips.
Using your headlights helps you transition smoothly into nighttime driving and increases your visibility to other drivers. They should be turned on 1 hour before dusk or anytime during adverse weather conditions like heavy rain or snow. Make sure you regularly clean your headlights and keep spare bulbs handy.
2. Leave space
In perfect conditions, you should leave 3 seconds between you and the car in front of you. To do this, you count how long it takes for you to pass a marker (like a sign) after the car in front of you has passed it. Add 1 second for every “negative condition”, like driving at night or feeling a bit tired, and 2 seconds for poor weather, like rain or snow.
3. Bring healthy snacks and plenty of water
Keeping your mind and body alert will help YOU stay alert while driving at night. Healthy snacks give you fuel without the risk of a sugar crash or carb coma. One of the biggest side effects of dehydration is fatigue, so drink plenty of water to keep energy levels up without the crash that can come from sugary drinks.
4. Keep environment cool and energizing
A warm car on a dark night on a quiet road sends signals to your brain that it is time to go to sleep. Wake your body up with an invigorating environment by blasting the AC or rolling down all the windows. Something as simple as picking up a new air freshener at the next rest stop gives your brain a little stimulation.
5. Entertain yourself
Keep your mind engaged by singing, talking aloud, or listening to audiobooks and podcasts. When your mind is working, it is more likely to keep a lookout for threats/danger and less likely to drift off.
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6. Pay attention to traffic signs
On a long drive, especially at night, we tend to get into a groove of just following the person in front of us. This is incredibly dangerous as it can lead you to miss important signs or information. Keep your eyes scanning for lights, traffic signs, and obstructions in the middle or off to the side of the road.
7. Plan rest stops
Have scheduled rest stops to catch yourself before you get too tired. Pick up an energy boost by ordering a coffee, walking around in the bright lights of a service station, or doing a few star-jumps in the parking lot.
8. Drive defensively
We do so much driving in our day-to-day lives that it’s easy to get behind the wheel and go on autopilot. Sit up straight and go on the defensive by giving way to other drivers, keeping an eye on the weather, and reducing distractions like cell phones.
9. Get plenty of rest the day/night before
If you know you have a long night of driving ahead of you, make sure you get a full night’s sleep the day before. If you start the drive feeling rested and energized, you are less likely to get drowsy as the sun goes down.
10. Know your limits
It is important to know your limits and admit when you have had enough. Don’t wait until you are nodding off at the wheel, look for early signs. If you find yourself spacing out, getting angry/irritated, or unable to sit up straight, it is time to call it quits.