|2. The Universe / Travel & Transport / Travel|
Driving 24+ Continuous Hours Cross-Country
Rule One - Don't do it.
It is nearly impossible to stay awake for 24 hours, much less more than 24. Your body will rebel. You'll want to stay awake, but it will be 1am and the monotony of continuous driving will hypnotise you. Without sleep, you'll become nauseous and your brain will cease to function. Your reflexes will slow. Your eyes will start to close of their own accord. Every time you begin to swerve off the road, you will be rudely awakened by the ripples at the edge that shake your car and make a monstrous noise. When you swerve into the opposite lane, however, there will be no saving ridges.
The UK-based Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions estimates that 20% of accidents are caused by drivers who have fallen asleep at the wheel (this number does not include accidents caused by the bad judgement that results from driver 'tiredness'). Most accidents that are caused by sleepiness are much more severe because of the high speed of impact (the driver often does not brake before hitting the obstacle). And in 1997, the United States' National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that each year, accidents caused by asleep and drowsy drivers cost $12.5 billion in diminished productivity and property loss.
Driving without break, especially during the hours between midnight and 6am (and between 2pm and 4pm, although this is a smaller trough), can be devastating. Unfortunately, many people do not think that falling asleep at the wheel can or ever will apply to them. They are wrong.
Before anyone ever attempts to drive long distances without stopping for the night, he or she needs to be aware of what will happen and should try to approach it from the safest avenue possible. These are some hints for safe distance driving. They are only hints however, and you yourself always need to be aware of your state of mental-tiredness. You also need to be humble enough to change drivers or take a break as soon as you feel you might need to.
Research has shown that people are generally consciously aware that they are becoming tired, and instead of stopping, try to 'fight off' falling asleep in a variety of ways. These next bullets are warning signs. If you find yourself doing any of these things or anything else along these lines to stay awake, or you doubt your driving abilities at 4am more than you doubted them at 4pm (even a small bit more), stop the car. It isn't a sign of weakness; it's a sign of prudence.
Most importantly, if you do not think you can make it, don't be afraid to pull off the road. Take a few hours' nap. You'll get there a lot slower (if at all) if you are in a wreck.
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