Driving a truck for a living comes with a whole host of risks that must be carefully accounted for, one of which is staying awake while on the road for extended periods of time. Couple the long days and erratic sleep schedules with the fact that many truck drivers are paid based on the amount of work they get done, and the risk of falling asleep at the wheel increases ten-fold. Here are a handful of tips to help you stay awake and alert and ensure optimum safety for everyone.
Take Power Naps – Your schedule may not allow for long stretches of sleep-time, so indulge instead in occasional cat-naps whenever possible. Studies have shown that sleeping for even just 20 minutes can provide enough energy to recharge the body and keep you awake for many subsequent hours. When you feel tired, pull over and get a few minutes of rest.
Eat Healthier – Fast food may be the quickest and most convenient option for a truck driver, but it’s not the wisest for a number of reasons, one of which is safety. In fact, all the salt, fat and sugar found in fast food can actually make you more tired. Instead, opt for healthier options, preferably those which are rich in protein and complex carbohydrates, such as lean meats, fruits and vegetables. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll also stay more alert on your route.
Get Moving – If you’re feeling fatigued, wake yourself up by getting out and moving around. Instead of just resting at the next truck stop, get out of your cab, walk around, stretch your muscles and get the blood flowing better. Why not kill two birds with one stone and include a quick truck and trailer inspection at the same time? This will keep you and your rig in better shape!
Stay Hydrated – It may be tempting to order that extra-large latte with a shot of espresso to help keep you awake while driving a truck, but in reality caffeine is only a quick, temporary fix. Once that buzz wears off, you’ll probably feel even more tired than you did before. Instead, focus on staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding caffeinated drinks as much as possible.
Crack the Windows – Fresh air can do wonders for reviving a sleepy truck driver, so the next time you’re feeling drowsy, try opening the windows and letting the oxygen flow. This is especially effective when the air outside is much cooler than the interior of your cab. A blast of cool air can have a similar effect as splashing your face with cold water and it doesn’t require you to stop and pull over, so you won’t lose any time on your route.
Whether you’re a long-haul truck driver that has to spend days or weeks behind the wheel or a local company driver that – like everyone else – is simply tired from the demands of everyday life, taking the appropriate measures to stay awake and alert behind the wheel is critical for the safety of yourself and everyone else on the road.