Truck drivers are a vulnerable population for fatigue – “the result of physical or mental exertion that impairs performance” – while they are driving. This can become dangerous for both the truck driver and the other cars on the road because when a driver becomes fatigued, he or she is not able to respond to unexpected events as quickly. It is hard to avoid feeling sleepy while driving a truck for many hours because of the demands of the job, but six tips about fatigue for truck drivers can be found below. If you or your loved one have been involved in a trucking accident and you need help, the Dan Pruitt Law Firm has the knowledge and expertise to come alongside you and make sure you get the help you deserve. Please call us today at (864) 232-4273 for a free consultation.
Tip 1: Get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel.
Due to your body’s circadian rhythm, which is the cycle of waking and sleeping that our body is on (internal clock), our bodies are programmed to be tired at specific times throughout the day. These times for most people are between midnight and 6am, as well as between 2pm and 4pm. If it is possible to avoid driving during these times when your body is naturally tired, it can help fight driver drowsiness. A study done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that the alertness of drivers had more to do with what time of day they were driving than how long they had been driving. Another study was completed with results showing that accidents are highest in the first hour of driving. This points to our bodies needing time to fully wake up before we are alert enough and ready to drive.
Tip 2: Maintain a healthy diet.
It is difficult to keep a healthy diet when you are driving for days at a time, but it is important to keep you from being drowsy. When you skip meals or you eat your meals at irregular times, this lack of fuel can lead to sleepiness and food cravings. It is important to have restful sleep at night so that when you wake up, you are able to safely drive, and food can impact your sleep. If you go to bed with an empty stomach, or right after eating a full meal, you are less likely to get as much restful sleep as when you have a light snack before sleeping.
Tip 3: Take a nap.
If at all possible, the best way to combat sleepiness while driving is to pull over and take a nap when you start to feel drowsy. Naps should be short, with the length of 10-45 minutes to help you get the most benefits from it. After napping, it is important to give yourself at least 15 minutes to fully wake up before getting on the road again.
Tip 4: Avoid medication that may induce drowsiness.
There are many different kinds of medicines that you may take that could cause drowsiness, including tranquilizers, sleeping pills, allergy medicines, and cold medicines. It is very important to read the warning labels on medicine bottles before you take them if you are about to drive to make sure that the medication that you are taking won’t make you fall asleep at the wheel. It is better to deal with the symptoms of a cold than to fall asleep while driving.
Tip 5: Recognize the signals and dangers of drowsiness.
When you are focused on driving for long periods of time, it is easy to become out of tune with your body and not know when you are starting to feel tired, but it is important to try and pay attention to the first warning signs. Some signs of drowsiness are blurred vision, frequent yawning, and heavy eyes (hard to keep them open).
Tip 6: Do not rely on “alertness tricks” to keep you awake.
Sometimes when driving, there are things you can do to make yourself feel more awake, like turning up the music, rolling down the window, or drinking a cup of coffee. It is important to remember that these are temporary fixes and may work for a little while, but they are not going to keep you awake to continue driving safely in the long-term.