Safe trucking is essential to protect yourself, your cargo, and others on the road. One aspect of this is staying alert at all times. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving contributed to causing over 90,000 crashes in 2017.
Data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) indicates that truck driver fatigue is a factor in 13% of commercial vehicle accidents. Beyond the large safety risk, a lack of sleep can negatively affect your health. Luckily, there are several steps you can take as a trucker to avoid fatigue while on the road.
Some tips include:
Get Enough Sleep
- Make sure you get enough sleep every night (or day, if you drive at night). It’s essential for your health and safety. Hours of service regulations are designed to give you enough time off-duty to rest up, but sometimes it’s difficult to get the sleep you need if you’re not used to sleeping in a semi-truck.
- Create a bedtime routine and repeat it every time you go to bed.
- Invest in a high-quality mattress for your truck, and add any items that make you feel more comfortable.
Don’t Rely on Caffeine or Other Tricks to Stay Alert
There’s nothing wrong with a cup of coffee here and there, but you shouldn’t be relying on caffeine as a replacement for sleep. If you are feeling drowsy, caffeine is not a long-term solution and if you drink coffee every day, the effect it has will be minimal. Too much caffeine can make it harder for you to sleep, especially if you have it later in the day.
Tricks to Stay Alert That Don’t Work:
- Rolling down the windows
- Turning up your music
- Stimulant drugs
These can give you a false sense of security and increase your risk of getting in an accident. The only way to truly resolve fatigue is by sleeping.
It should go without saying that using stimulant drugs to try to get around your body’s need to sleep is not only dangerous, but also illegal. You could lose your job and your commercial license, and it’s not worth the risk.
Take a Nap if You Need One
If you are feeling drowsy, the best thing you can do is to find a place to safely park your truck and take a nap. It is recommended that you nap for at least 10 minutes, but no more than 45 minutes. After you sleep, take 10 minutes to fully wake up before hitting the road again.
Even a short nap can be more effective than caffeine. However, remember that napping by itself won’t replace your need to sleep for a longer length of time.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Your overall health can affect the quality of your sleep and how tired you feel throughout the day. Skipping meals, eating overly heavy foods, or not getting enough nutrients can all result in increased drowsiness. Making a commitment to your health can have many positive effects, including increased safety.
A Supportive Trucking Company
At DSW, we work hard to support our drivers. Our management is made up of former truckers, so we know what life on the open road is like.