While technology-related distractions are often the focus of today’s road safety concerns, drowsy driving is just as dangerous. Not only does it inhibit your alertness and focus on the road, it also creates the potential for serious or lethal harm should you fall asleep at the wheel. Lest you think this problem is limited to truck drivers or extreme circumstances, 41 percent of Americans admit to falling asleep while driving at least once in their lives.
Nothing can be a substitute for adequate sleep and regular breaks, but these seven apps will help you maintain alertness during long drives or late night treks home.
If you feel at risk for falling asleep, pull over immediately and take a nap. Approximately 100,000 crashes each year can be attributed to sleepy drivers. Getting there faster is not worth the chance of causing an accident.
Use these apps when you’re tired, but not on the verge of losing consciousness, or when the open road becomes monotonous and you need stimulation.
The function of this app is basic but helpful. At the beginning of your trip, tell Anti Drowse how many hours you’ll be on the road. The app will make noises at predetermined intervals to keep you awake. This feature is useful because you don’t know when the sounds will go off. Unexpected alarms can be more jolting and increase alertness by creating anticipation in your mind.
There is also a pro version of the app, which offers a greater variety of sounds plus vibrations, and is ad-free.
Another app that offers simple utility is Anti Sleep Driver. Its premise is that a screen of solid blue light is just as effective as caffeine to wake you up. This has been proven by multiple studies, and if you gaze at the preview picture you’ll see what they mean.
Of course, you don’t want to look down at your phone’s screen while driving, but this app could help you wake up every time you pull over for gas or a rest stop.
If you’re driving alone, Driver Alarm will perform the duties of a passenger who monitors your eyes for signs of impending sleep. The only catch is that you need to mount your phone on the windshield so it can see your eyes. Make sure you find a place that won’t distract you as you drive. Driver Alarm detects your open eyes. If they close, it immediately sounds a loud alarm to wake you up.
This app could be useful to a solo driver, but also to a car with one or more passengers. If your companions fall asleep while you’re driving, the alarm will also rouse them so they can keep you awake or switch drivers.
This app also provides some of the perks of having a live passenger in the car. You can set up alerts to help you stay awake, but the most useful feature is probably the “Talk to Me” option. A voice named Victoria will ask you to repeat words and if you miss one she’ll wake you up with a loud alarm. This feature is nice because repetition doesn’t require much brainpower, so you shouldn’t feel distracted from driving, just alert enough to stay on the road safely.
Stay Awake Pro also has an interactive touch option, but this clearly would not be safe to use while driving. Use it instead in other scenarios you have trouble staying awake for, such as work meetings.
This app promises to deliver caffeine-like bursts of vibrations to keep you awake. Put your phone in your pocket while you drive and receive physical jolts of alertness. As an added benefit, keeping your phone out of sight will eliminate distractions.
This feature would be useful for drivers who want to listen to music or talk radio, but also want a second stimulation to help them stay alert. If you’re not listening to anything else, you can add sound to accompany the vibrations for an extra alarm. You also control the frequency of the alarms, which is good because you can tailor the app to suit your individual needs.
While this app is targeted to drivers, it requires you to hit a reset button at prescheduled intervals. If you don’t hit the button, the app will make noise and use flashing lights to wake you up. Use caution with this app. Tapping a button may not be more distracting than changing radio stations, but if it is, stop using it right away.
A better use for this app might be a passenger who is also sleepy but trying to help the driver stay awake. The passenger could use the app to stay awake, thus keeping the driver alert as well.
Drive Awake is similar to the Driver Alarm app in that it detects your eyes for wakefulness and sounds an alarm if they close. However, unlike Driver Alarm, Drive Awake is available on Android as well as IOS. It also includes a secondary feature. The app is created by Café Amazon and will direct you to the nearest branch if your eyes start to close.