There are those who think that loud music will keep you awake. Agreed that loud music, can, however it will help for a while. It might even distract you from from the driving task or even send you to sleep. What about coffee? Gworo? What if combined with cigarette? Caffeine is only a short term solution and will have less effect the more often you use it. It might make you feel more alert but it won’t keep you going for long. Seep, remains the long term solution. This reminds me of a personal experience way back at the greatest University- the University of Lagos. Although it had nothing to do with driving, it however taught me a little lesson about cheating nature. While on a post graduate programme, we went to what was then one of the bukas on campus to fill our stomach. After a good meal, my friend and classmate nick- named Folly who is today a senior officer in one the services suggested we buy kola nut and top it up with his favourite – Saint Morris.
We obliged and bought kola nuts and cigarettes as suggested. We smoked plenty, topping it up with plenty of kola nut all in the name of dealing a deadly blow to sleep. To my astonishment, as soon as we got into the post graduate library, my friend who incidentally took more of the gworo and cigarretee, suddenly pulled off his shirt, dragged a table and was about to do the unexpected- sleep, when I jokingly challenged him and said, ‘ old boy, how can you try that after all you have consumed? Of course, that friendly challenge and stupid joke almost resulted in a friendly fight by two friends whose real problem was sleep. To make peace, my good friend was allowed to sleep all night instead of our planned all night jacking ( reading).
The last myth is that plenty of air through the window will keep me awake. Like all others discussed, this might give you a boost and help for a while, as might turning the air- conditioning. But if you are tired, sleep still remains the solution. Some people assume that fatigue only affect long distance travellers. Any driver can suffer fatigue. Like we stated earlier, broken sleep or too little sleep at night caused by power fluctuations which has become rampant all over the country, too much hanging out or armed robbery attacks which is common in most cities, sleep disorders ( such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnoea) continuing pressures of stress, very demanding physical or mental work, caring for children and often the demands of daily living can drain your energies. What about the after effect of all night prayer meetings common among Christians. It is very common to see believers’ faith sleep when all they need do is take a little nap at the prayer venue before driving home. As Sector Commander of the Federal Capital Territory some years ago, I had to initiate a special campaign targeted at churches in the FCT. This followed series of road crashes involving Christian believers mostly after all night prayers early Saturday mornings. The campaign took us to a good number of churches where the effect of sleep or fatigue was drummed to them. In fact; there was a very pathetic incident when a man who was said to have just gotten his green card to the United States of America was killed on the very day the news filtered in. This was indeed one very sad event that really shook me beyond words, propelling me to request audience with churches to raise their awareness level on the dangers of sleep. That campaign, I believe did a lot in bringing such crashes down in the FCT.
Judging if you are too tired to drive is the first question to always ask yourself. But should you become a victim, please plan your trip with a good night rest uninterrupted. You should also plan to take regular breaks (at least every 2hours for 15minutes or more) stopping in towns along the way or at roadside rest stops. When you stop, get out of the car and walk around for a while – exercise, breathing deeply. You are also advised to eat proper well balanced meals on journeys – not too much and not too little – and at your usual meal times. This will also ensure you take proper breaks. It is also good to steer clear of fatty foods which can make you feel sluggish. Avoid the vogue among the average motorists to drink alcohol at all before driving or during breaks. To show you how serious we regard such breaks, the Commission insists that a driver must take a break after three to four hours drive. Finally, please check what prescriptions medicines you are taking- some can affect your alertness or cause drowsiness. But if your case is really bad, please share the driving with someone.