Driver Alertness: Mental Stimulation Works Better Than Sugar

Driver smiling and always alert

Every driver on the road must be alert, awake, and in good physical and mental condition. With people’s lives at stake, this is a responsibility and civic duty.

Being alert is having all five senses at work. When people become tired, stressed or lack sleep, they are less alert. To fight sleepiness and fatigue, most drivers would bring along bottles of sports drinks and high-calorie snacks. It’s understandable why these are their go-to drinks and food; the calories can give them a boost of energy, and sports drinks will keep them hydrated.

This is not the case for drivers who are on the road for hours. Energy from high-calorie snacks is only temporary. They will soon experience a sugar crash, and fatigue may set in while they are still on the road. Drivers who spend hours on the road need a more stimulating and lasting method for staying alert.

Cut Down the Sugar

Instead of a chocolate bar, chow on nuts or fruits like pears, oranges and bananas. If you can pull over for a meal, have some oatmeal, vegetables or whole grain sandwiches. These are low-calorie, high-energy food that won’t make you sleepy soon after eating them. Make sure you have enough water within reach to avoid dehydration. You can also have coffee, but avoid the sweetened variety.

Exercise Your Mind

Keeping your mind busy is the best way to be alert. Instead of blasting loud music, listen to an audio-book or a podcast. If you have a companion, talk about topics that interest you both. Mental exercises that don’t require you to take your eyes off the road are better for your health than eating sugary food.

Practice Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is important for staying alert while driving. The NHS defines this as knowing what’s happening around you and the road ahead. Staffing agency Centerline Drivers adds that with situational awareness, drivers will have enough time to process events and react fast. They are aware of potential road risks and are thus able to avoid them.