How to Stay Alert While Driving

Whether it’s the hum of the tires or the subtle vibration of a car in cruise control, staying alert while driving can be difficult. Driver fatigue sets in, and the next thing you know, your eyelids start to feel awfully heavy. Starting to doze off or losing focus behind the wheel has led to many tragic accidents. Whether you are driving a big rig or a small vehicle, you must remain alert – even if there are no other cars around.

Below are a few methods to help you stay alert and focused while on the road, but above all, if you have any doubt regarding your ability to safely complete your trip, stop and get some additional rest immediately or as soon as you are safely able to do so. If you are reading this because you or someone you know was already involved in an accident, and you suspect that driver fatigue may have played a role, please contact Sandoval & James today for a completely free consultation with an experienced Austin car accident attorney.

Begin Your Trip Rested and Prepared

It’s important to prepare yourself for a long drive before getting in the car. Your body needs ample rest and nutrition if you expect it to remain sharp. Driving, especially for long periods, can be mundane. Taking necessary precautions will keep your mind and body vigilant. So, before you hop in the car, make sure to do the following:

Get Some Rest

Research shows that taking a twenty-minute power nap before getting behind the wheel provides your body with the crucial rest it needs to remain attentive – even while doing something as routine as driving. It’s also smart to pull over and catnap if you are feeling worn down. Trying to fight your fatigue can lead to devastating accidents. Pull off the road and take a quick nap; your body and mind will thank you.

Fuel Up

Your vehicle isn’t the only thing that needs proper fuel before hitting the road – your body does too. Eating a healthy meal before getting behind the wheel will provide you with the complex carbohydrates your body needs to maintain long-lasting stamina. The drive-thru sounds convenient when on a road trip, but the fats and sugars will deplete your energy in the long run. Consuming whole foods like lean meats, vegetables, and fruits will help you stay awake.

Take Your Vitamins

This may sound more like a health tip than a method for staying alert while driving, but it rings true for both! Vitamin B and vitamin C boost your energy levels. Taking vitamin supplements, along with your healthy pre-route meal, will maximize absorption into your system and provide you with higher and long-lasting energy levels.

On the Road

There are also several helpful ways to keep your mind alert once you’re on the road. Utilizing these tips will help you maintain energy, limit the role fatigue can play while behind the wheel, and keep you fully engaged in the task at hand.

Crank Up the Audio

Now is the time to crank up the volume. Music, audiobooks, and podcasts are excellent resources while driving for extended periods. They keep your mind engaged and can make the time on the road pass quickly. Whatever it is that interests you, plug it in and turn it up.

Roll Down the Windows

This is especially effective when it’s cooler outside than it is in the car. Typically, it starts to get a little warm while driving, so rolling down the windows and letting fresh, cool air in will shock your system and provide you with the temporary wake-up call you need. Oxygen flow will only provide a moment of stimulation, though, so do not depend on it to keep you alert throughout your entire drive.

Make Sure to Move

Keeping your blood pumping and circulating is also something to be diligent about while driving. When you stop for gas, make sure to get out and do a couple of laps (walking or running) around the car or gas station to get the blood flow going again.

What to Avoid

There are common mistakes drivers make in an attempt to stay alert while driving. These mistakes, while providing temporary fatigue relief, can pose harmful and even dangerous consequences down the road.

Limit Your Caffeine

This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s true. Caffeine can actually hinder your ability to stay awake and alert on the road. Ditch the coffee, and take sips of water during your trek instead. If you’re afraid that water will lead to frequent hydration, remember that caffeine is a diuretic that will lead to more rest stops than water. Dehydration always leads to fatigue, so staying hydrated with water instead of a caffeinated energy drink will provide you with more energy in the long run.

Fend Off Sugary Snacks

While snacking helps keep drivers awake, choosing the right snack while en route is critical to staying alert. Candy and chips may sound good while in the car, but that sugar high ultimately wears off and leaves you more tired than before. Opting for a bag of almonds or apple slices will boost energy levels and won’t leave you with the sugar crash that unhealthy snacks cause.


Some of these methods may seem obvious, but doing the little things before and during a long road trip can make all of the difference. Take care of yourself before you go and while on the road. By doing so, you will be better equipped to remain focused and alert. If you were hit by a fatigued driver and need a local and experienced law firm, contact the Austin car accident attorneys at Sandoval & James. We can help.

Just one of our many client reviews: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “The results are beyond our expectations. This is the best personal injury law firm in town! Everything was great, thank you!” -Fernando G. on Google

As of 7/13/24, SJW Car Accident & Injury Lawyers Austin has a 4.9 rating from 1,596 total reviews on Google Maps.