THE United States has just concluded Drowsy Driving Prevention Week to coincide with daylight savings time.

In Mzansi, this comes at the end of a working year where many drivers prepare to embark on long-distance trips to family and holiday destinations.

At this time of year drowsy driving can be quite a challenge as people are mentally and physically fatigued.

It is worth reminding ourselves how to remain alert and not be susceptible to drowsy driving.

According to MasterDrive CEO Eugene Herbert, research shows drowsy driving can often be just as dangerous as driving after drinking alcohol.

“There are a number of habits to adopt that can help drivers be aware of when they are vulnerable of drowsy driving and then prevent oneself from driving while tired. These are basic things that every driver can become accustomed to practising to become better and safer drivers,” Herbert said.

Tips to prevent drowsy driving:

1. Get a good night’s rest before a long trip or every night if you drive for a living.

2. Recognise the drowsy signals and respond to it immediately. Indicators of drowsiness include frequent yawning, heavy eyes and blurred vision.

3. Ensure that you do not drive for longer than two-hour stretches at a time.

4. Pay attention to what you consume. Avoid meals high in sugar and rather choose meals that provide consistent energy. This includes ensuring you are well hydrated at all times, especially at this time of the year.

5. Avoid taking medications that can cause drowsiness – check with your chemist. If you feel drowsy while driving, it’s better to stop and take a break than to continue driving.

6. Coffee and other caffeinated drinks can provide a temporary increase in alertness, but be prepared that it can also cause a slump in energy after consumption for some people.

7. If you have a co-driver, it’s better to change drivers when you start feeling drowsy rather than attempt to ignore it.