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 attentiveness and focus on the road, but it also creates the potential for serious or lethal harm should you fall asleep at the wheel.
If you feel at risk of falling asleep, pull over immediately and take a nap. Getting to your destination faster is not worth the chance of causing an accident. Though nothing can be a substitute for adequate sleep and regular breaks, these five apps will help stimulate your brain when you’re on a monotonous open road or a late-night trek home.
1. Drowsy Driving Alert
The premise of the Drowsy Driving Alert app is super simple, but incredibly helpful if you want extra protection against getting too sleepy while driving. When you open Drowsy Driving Alert and press the green start button, the app detects your face and puts a green square around it.
If it detects your eyes are closed, an alert goes off on your phone, much like an alarm clock. After closing your eyes, the app sends out an alert in seconds. You can personalize the alert sound and the volume level, testing as you go until you find your perfect combo.
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t use this app as a way to keep driving despite being tired. This app should be used as an extra precaution, but as soon as you’re at the point where you can’t keep your eyes open, you need to pull off the road to switch drivers or get some rest.
Download: Drowsy Driving Alert for Android | iOS (Free)
If you have a hard time waking up in the morning, you’re probably no stranger to the Alarmy app. While the app does have traditional buzzer alarms, Alarmy is unique because of its alarm missions. Instead of being able to easily snooze or dismiss an alarm, you have to carry out a task, like taking a photo of something or completing math problems.
On a long stretch of road, you can set an alarm to go off every thirty minutes or so to help your environment from getting too monotonous. Some of Alarmy’s missions won’t work well on a car ride, like carrying out physical exercise or typing something on your phone. But there are two that are perfect for road trips: the Math and Shake missions.
To complete the Math mission, you have to work out a certain number of math problems to turn the alarm off. You can customize the difficulty level and number of problems, and because this one requires typing on your phone, you should only choose this mission if you have a passenger with you.
If you’re alone on a long drive, try out the Shake mission. To complete this mission, you have to hold your phone in your hand and shake it for whatever number you set. As long as you set your alarms before you start driving, this is a great way to keep yourself entertained on solo trips.
Download: Alarmy for Android | iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)
QuizzLand is the perfect app for couples or groups on road trips because one person can hold the phone and read out the questions, while everyone else competes to scream the answer first. There are a bunch of trivia categories to explore, including Sports, Movies, Music, and Nature. You can compete against other random people, or just keep the game to you and your friends.
If you’re driving by yourself and want to play QuizzLand, you can enlarge the text within the app’s native settings and download a text-to-speech app that can read the questions to you. Then, you’ll probably want to invest in a car phone holder to mount your phone and make it easier to glance at while driving.
Download: QuizzLand for Android | iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)
Spotify is the biggest music streaming service out there with over 430 million users, 188 million of which are premium subscribers. If you don’t pay for a plan right now, but you’re thinking about it, we can help you figure out which Spotify subscription is best for you.
One of the biggest perks of paying for a plan is not being forced to listen to ads in the middle of your playlist or podcast episode. When you’re in the car and struggling to stay entertained, listening to ads is the last thing you want.
You can create your own personalized playlist with songs that you know will pump you up and keep you energized while driving. Or, you can search something like “driving playlist” or “stay awake” to find playlists other people have already curated. If music puts you to sleep, check out the plethora of comedy podcasts available on Spotify.
Download: Spotify for Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)
The SongPop app is similar to the QuizzLand app mentioned above. But instead of answering trivia questions, you listen to a random song and have to guess which song it is. This is a great game to play with multiple people, especially if you all have similar music preferences, but you can also play by yourself.
You can’t quiz yourself based on individual artists, but you can choose a specific music genre. A few of the more popular categories include Pop, Top Hits, Rock, Hip Hop, Country, and Family. After you pick a genre, you’ll be instructed to choose a playlist to hear songs from, and you can see album artwork from four of the included artists.
When you first open the app, you don’t have to create an account, but the app does request your age to help narrow down which songs you’ll be more familiar with. Then, after you select a genre, you’ll see three curated playlists to choose between, but you can also select See More if you don’t like any of the options presented to you.
Download: SongPop for Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)
Stay Awake and Alert While Driving
Take these apps with you on your next road trip or make them part of your daily commute. And remember, you shouldn’t use these apps as a way to force yourself to stay awake. When your eyes get heavy and you feel immense drowsiness coming on, please pull over and rest—for the safety of you and others on the road.