Safety Tips For Truckers: Preventing Yourself From Falling Asleep While Driving an 18-Wheeler Truck
Truck driving is one of the most physically and mentally challenging jobs in the world. Global commerce heavily relies on truckers doing their jobs properly, most of which involve long hours of continuous driving along endless stretches of highways throughout the country. Almost all truck drivers have to work on tight daily schedules, often with back-to-back delivery deadlines. Such a hectic schedule does not allow truck drivers to get adequate rest or sleep, which accounts for long-distance driver fatigue.
Road fatigue in truck drivers is one of the biggest causes of road traffic accidents across the United States. Long shifts of continuous driving throughout the day and night leave little to no time for drivers to rest as they move between consecutive deliveries. Although drivers take advantage of coffee, tea, energy drinks, and other stimulants to help stay up throughout the journey, there are no substitutes for adequate rest and sleep.
Read on as we take a closer look at some safety tips that can help prevent truckers from driving behind the wheel and save the lives of everyone on the road. If you or your loved one got involved in a truck accident, you can hire a competent truck accident lawyer to help obtain financial compensation for your damages.
While your schedule might not allow you to maintain a consistent sleep schedule throughout the week, you should try your best to get enough sleep so that you might not feel drowsy behind the wheel. Most truck drivers tend to ignore their internal sleep clock, opting for small resting sessions throughout the day instead of getting a good night’s sleep.
This behavior is extremely dangerous because the lack of proper sleep can interfere with your normal cognitive and motor functioning. It is why most transport services have strict guidelines regarding sufficient sleeping hours in between shifts.
Although it might seem unrelated to sleep at first glance, the fact remains that your eating patterns indirectly impact your level of alertness throughout the day. If you tend to eat infrequent, large meals, you might be prone to getting fatigued easily. On the contrary, taking frequent meals in smaller portions throughout the day can help you remain alert and keep your metabolism in excellent shape.
Keeping yourself adequately hydrated throughout the day is important to staying alert on long, tiresome driving trips. Although drivers tend to avoid frequent hydration due to the fear of bathroom breaks negatively impacting their delivery timelines. It is essential to note that optimal brain functioning requires adequate hydration.
This hydration should comprise fresh water instead of sugary drinks like juices or carbonated beverages. While these drinks give you a temporary high, they end up not only dehydrating you but also contributing significantly to your daily caloric intake. Drinking lots of water instead of unhealthy sugary drinks throughout the day also helps you avoid consuming calories above your recommended daily intake.
Getting 10 to 15 minutes of exercise every day helps keep you fresh and alert behind the wheel. A daily exercise routine, no matter how short, improves your blood circulation and increases the release of happy hormones in your brain, including endorphins, which help stabilize your mood and re-energize you as you resume your routine of long driving hours on the road. You should try your best to incorporate a short walk into your day when taking a resting stop anywhere on the road, as it can help keep your blood flowing optimally and keep your attention on the road.
A truck driver with long working hours needs to know when to take a break. If you feel any signs of road fatigue like fatigue, drowsiness, impaired memory, yawning, swerving on the road, irritability, head nodding, or more, you should immediately find a rest stop and take a break. Doing so can save not only your life but also the lives of other drivers on the road. While completing your deliveries is important, staying alive to do it is infinitely more important, which requires a keen understanding of when to take a break from continuous driving.
Most truck drivers rely on caffeinated beverages, including coffee, tea, and energy drinks to stay alert during long driving sessions. While these drinks can acutely increase your level of mental alertness, they end up making you anxious and jittery, with a crash that often happens hours after drinking a cup of strong coffee.
It is essential to consume caffeine in moderation, sticking to one to two cups a day to help boost your energy levels. Anything more than this amount and you are likely to experience the adverse effects of increased caffeine intake, including sleep disturbance, anxiety, etc.
Boredom is one of the most significant factors contributing to making you drowsy behind the wheel. It is important to keep the radio on to listen to some music or podcasts throughout the journey. Continuous aural stimulation helps keep you awake and serves as a much-needed distraction on monotonous motorway trucking journeys.