Preventing driver fatigue: Tips to stay awake and healthy on the road

August 31, 2020 Casey Nighbor

Sleep deprivation and fatigue has always been a hurdle for truck drivers. But not being alert as a driver can create a variety of problems. Not only are you at a higher risk of causing an accident due to an impaired response time, but chronic fatigue is bad for your general health and longevity.

In fact, the Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) reported that 13 percent of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers were considered to have been fatigued at the time of their crash.

Learn some tips to reduce driver fatigue to stay alert and safe on the road.

Tips to prevent driver fatigue

1.Maintain a healthy lifestyle

An easy way to ensure a good night’s sleep is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eating regularly or eating at odd times can make your blood sugar irregular and impact your ability to fall asleep. Also eating big meals or going to bed hungry can also keep your awake. Having healthy snacks with you can make sure that you’re always properly fueled and able to get a good night’s sleep.

Also generally practicing healthy habits like staying hydrated and cutting off caffeine in the afternoon can help ensure you are able to fall asleep normally and naturally.

2.Create an optimal sleeping environment

When you are falling asleep, there are some things you can do to create an ideal sleep environment. Having the room at a cool temperature, minimizing light and noise and getting off electronic devices an hour before bed are all tried and true methods. Experiment with your bedroom environment to figure out what works best for you and your needs.

3.Try not to drive when your body get naturally sleepy

While it is always recommended to get an adequate amount of sleep each night, it’s also a good idea not to drive when your body gets naturally sleepy. This is typically between the hours of 12-6 a.m. and 2-4 p.m.

This is not always possible but it’s something to keep in mind if you’ve been getting less sleep than normal.

4.Know the signs of drowsiness

Know when you are getting drowsy and tired before it becomes a hazard. Some signs include frequent yawning, blurry vision, heavy eyes or trouble focusing. Learn how your body tells you that it’s tired and respond accordingly.

5.Take a nap

When safe, you should take a nap when feeling drowsy or are becoming less alert. A good nap is at least 10 minutes long but less than 45 minutes. More than that can impact your ability to fall asleep later. Always allow 15-20 minutes to fully wake up from a nap before continuing to drive.

What doesn’t work

With these tips, there is also things you shouldn’t be doing or trying. The only true method of conquering fatigue is adequate sleep. Coffee, nicotine, soft drinks, and energy drinks are not conducive to a healthy lifestyle or staying safe on the road. Things like blasting the radio or opening a window are alertness “tricks” that don’t actually help you stay awake or alert safety on the road. If you are becoming sleepy or drowsy while driving, you should pull over at a safe location and rest.

Lack of sleep and stress go hand in hand. Learn how to better manage your stress as a truck driver

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