If you’ve been a truck driver for a while, chances are you’ve felt drowsy while driving. Long stretches of highway can chip away at your ability to stay alert, making your eyelids feel heavy.
This is undoubtedly frightening, but you aren’t alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 72,000 automobile accidents occur every year as a result of drowsy driving. Thankfully, there’s plenty you can do to stay awake. Here are three simple suggestions we encourage all of our drivers to follow.
1.) Keep a consistent sleep schedule. The average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If you only get five or six hours, you’re more likely to feel tired and irritable throughout the day. In addition, a lack of sleep affects your cognitive function. When you’re tired, your coordination, reaction time and judgment are all affected. Several clinical studies have even found that lack of sleep can affect your ability to drive as much as drinking alcohol or using illicit drugs. Try to go to bed at the same time every night. If you work a staggered schedule, this isn’t always possible, but you can at least commit to a full night’s sleep.
2.) Stay on a balanced diet. Foods that are high in sodium, saturated fat and carbohydrates, such as hamburgers, french fries and fast food tacos, cause your blood sugar to spike. This gives you a burst of energy after eating them, but one that quickly fades away, causing you to “crash.” When your blood sugar levels are low, you end up feeling irritable and tired. Sticking with a healthy diet that contains fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins can help you stay alert on lengthy road trips.
3.) Listen to your body. Truckers are tough by nature. They’re committed to their duties and take delivery times seriously. Sometimes, this leads to a willingness to overwork. Although the electronic logging device rule and other regulations have encouraged more frequent breaks, many long-haul truckers still push their bodies to the limit. If you find yourself feeling tired while driving, don’t hesitate to pull over a take a nap. It’s better to rest and rejuvenate than to risk an accident.
How do you handle driving when you feel tired? If you have some advice you’d like to share, visit our Facebook page and leave a comment.