Finally, Raya is almost upon us. All Malaysians are celebrating. Some are excited for the special occasion, while others are reveling the long weekend. Most are going to be taking a long drive to balik kampung, savour some home-cooked rendang, and parade their new bajus to their loved ones.
The last thing anyone wants though, is to get into an accident. Based on past statistics, accident rates and death toll go up during the festive season. It’s become such a problem, that the Fire and Rescue Department has placed almost 10,000 fire and rescue personnel on standby during the period this year.
Of course, accidents will happen, but you should still do everything in your power to ensure a safe journey. Check your vehicles prior to embarking, try to stay within the speed limit, and follow the tips below for a safe ride home:
1. Get enough ZZZs before
If you’ve stayed awake for 18 hours or more, you’re in no state to drive. Being awake for 18 hours is equal to having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%, which some countries classify as legally drunk . If drunk driving is wrong, so is sleepy driving. Make sure you get at least 8-9 hours of sleep before embarking on your journey, however short it is.
2. Take breaks
Driver’s fatigue is a very real issue that causes thousands of accidents every year. Even if you’ve slept well the night before your drive you’ll still get tired if you stay behind the wheel without breaks for too long. This will affect your concentration and increase your chances of getting into a car crash. Experts recommend a minimum break of 15 minutes after every two hours of driving. Sure, you want to get to your destination fast, but no amount of time saved is worth safety of yourself and your loved ones?
3. Have wet tissues handy
Get yourself a pack of those wet tissues people use to wipe their babies’ bottoms and maybe stick it into a bucket with ice. Whenever you need to refresh yourself, just use one of the ice cold tissues to wipe your face. The cold will jolt you right up and you’ll be reinvigorated, all with the help of just one wet towel! It’ll come in super handy too if you’re travelling with kids. Ahem.
4. Travel with company
Family and friends always adds fun to the trip. They break the monotony and help provide conversation should the driver feel bored and about to doze off. Also, having more than one person in the car means you can periodically switch drivers, which helps stave off driver’s fatigue and keep the ride safer.
5. Do some stretches during your breaks
Whether it’s you or those riding in your car, stretching can help keep the blood flowing. You’ll also find that being in the same position for hours on end can be tough on your back. So make it a point to do some stretches your breaks. See image above for optimal stretching exercises for drivers.
6. Listen to an audiobook
If you’re travelling alone or if everyone travelling with you is snoring away, an audiobook can be a great companion to keep you awake and alert on the road. You’re not fumbling or clicking on anything, merely listening to a story, so you can still focus all your attention on the road ahead. More and more people are getting in on the audiobook bandwagon because the hours on the road just fly by. Before you know it you’re already at your destination!
7. If you’re sleepy, stop driving
If you catch yourself yawning multiple times, or maybe even doing last-minute brakes and sudden swerves, that’s a sign your mind is about to shut down. Whether you’re one hour from your destination or 7 hours away, the accident could still happen because you are not alert anymore. The best thing to do at times like these is to find a safe spot, pull over, recline your seat and have a quick 20-min to 1-hour nap, which will boost your energy levels and brain power.
The pointers below do not apply to those of you who are currently fasting and planning to drive during the day, as they involve food and hydration. However, since you’ll be making a return trip, you can apply these useful tips when you are no longer fasting. Trust us, they’ll definitely help!
8. Remember to hydrate
Because your body’s functions rely mostly on water, it’s very important to stay hydrated. When you are well-hydrated, the blood that flows to your brain cells are fresh and more fluid, which helps your brain remain alert. Pack a freezer box with some bottles of cold water so you can take a sip of refreshingly cool water throughout your journey.
9. Chew gum
Chewing gum induces an increase in alertness and can help you concentrate longer and focus on tasks that require constant monitoring, like driving, for example.
10. Keep your taste buds awake
Many people enjoy munching on chips or other snacks while travelling, but stay away from having a huge meal right before getting behind the wheel as it could result in less oxygen to your brain – which causes drowsiness. Instead, try something tart and sour to give your taste buds a jolt. Fruits are great, just remember to skin and cut them into bite-sized pieces before your trip!
Drive safe and have a happy holiday! Selamat pergi dan selamat pulang!
What are your tricks for staying alert while driving long distance? Share with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page!