Ramadan Driving Guide: 5 tips to keep you safe while fasting
It's not easy. It's not meant to be. If you're fasting this Ramadan, and seeing as you're here on DriveTribe, you're probably going to be driving too, then you might be susceptible to falling asleep at the wheel, a bit of Ramadan Road Rage and imagining that that Smart car ahead of you actually is a big, succulent samosa.
During the Holy Month of Ramadan, Muslims will abstain from eating and drinking and even lustful thoughts – so no lingering stares at the backside of that GT3 RS! And this is for between 17 to nearly 19 hours a day – that's around 80 per cent of the entire 24 hours. Again, it's not easy.
Tiredness, irritability, dizziness, headaches and loss of concentration can result from low blood sugar levels. Those fasting can get dehydrated by around 1.3 per cent in the latter part of the day according to one study, and 1-4 per cent is the danger zone. That can affect memory retention, problem-solving, quick information processing and spatial awareness. You may recognise some of those as being rather important to driving.
But while you might be firing on one less cylinder and your fuel injection's constricted, you do get a bit of a NOS boost and more potent Octane in your blood during Ramadan.
Research shows that non time-dependant tasks, repetitive work, memory retrieval and even decision-making are all unaffected. Additionally psychomotor function, information processing speed, visual attention and overall vigilance are actually improved early to mid-morning - something to do with getting up and eating earlier in the day. Meanwhile from the second week onwards scientists have found higher endorphins levels present in the blood for fasters.
That's like natural morphine! It improves your alertness, reduces pain perception in the brain, and generally makes you feel so good, you might even let the occasional Nissan Juke out into traffic in front of you.
With this all in mind, here's my top tips to fasting and driving:
1. Stay serene!
Everyone else on the road is a moron – that's a given even under normal circumstances. Whilst fasting, that 'moronicity' appears to multiply. Fall back on your endorphins, find your calm centre, recite Quran verses and prayers, take deep breaths and remember Ramadan enjoins empathy towards others.
2. When to drive
By the late afternoon you'll be lagging, so get most of your driving done in the early part of the day if you can. Avoid rush-hour and make extra time for your journeys so you can cruise rather than career down the road.
3. Don't fall asleep
Stating the obvious I know, but microsleep is deadly. Even if you blank out for a second at 30mph, your car will have gone 44ft (13m). That's potentially catastrophic. Try to get a power nap in before an afternoon journey. If you feel sleepy at the wheel, stop and take a break. Do not try to fight it and drive on.
4. Back-up Iftar
Iftar is the meal to break the fast. If you're out late, you can get a bit frantic about making it home, or to the mosque, in time for Iftar. Blasting down the road whilst salivating at the thought of the Biryani and Pakoras that await you, is perhaps not the best frame of mind to drive in. So keep a back-up Iftar in the glove box: some water, dates and a snack bar etc.
5. Leave the car at home
Seriously? That's the answer? Well why be tempted to speed or drive beyond your limitations if you can avoid it altogether? Take a cab, walk, jump on public transport, or grab a lift with someone who's not fasting. Heresy on DriveTribe? Whatever keeps you safe my friend.
Wishing you a blessed Ramadan and a rev-happy Eid!