Long hours behind the wheel.
The midwest that stretches for days…okay it just seems that way.
That reefer that you parked beside that fires up just as you’re about to doze off.
Finding elusive sleep on a twin bed that isn’t the same as your adjustable, gel memory foam, heated and cooling technology, ergonomic ultra-cushioned top, California king size, brand name mattress at home.
How did a cricket get into my truck?!
Driver fatigue is a real problem for today’s drivers. The FMCSA cites 13% of truck drivers were considered to be fatigued at the time of an accident according to the Large Truck Crash Study. And as we know, the risk of a fatality and injury to others involved in a transport collision is higher than a standard motor vehicle collision.
So what can we do, as long-haul truck drivers, to make sure we are alert and staying safe on the roads and fighting fatigue? It starts and ends with looking after yourself.
Get a Good Sleep
Easier said than done, I know. So here’s a few tips to get better sleep: limit caffeine, use earplugs, listen to a sleep app or podcast, and use comfortable bedding and pillows. And check your health. Sleep apnea can wreak havok on your body’s ability to restore itself with a good sleep. You could benefit from a CPAP machine in your truck.
Being on the road takes away the overall comfort and nutrition of a home-cooked meal, but there are other options. Prepare your meals in advance. Bring fresh fruit and vegetables on the road. Limit your intake of processed and convenience foods because they contain a high amount of sodium which causes dehydration, which leads to fatigue.
You can’t be dehydrated on the road so steer away from caffeinated sodas and coffee. When possible, opt for water. You can add flavoring if that helps, but stay hydrated. Your body will thank you.
Take a Walk
It’s not easy to stay fit on the road. The very nature of the job is sedentary but there are ways to get some exercise. The best, tried and trued form of simple exercise is walking. Embrace that 30-minute break or a delay at the shipper/receiver to take a walk. Sure, the parking lot isn’t the same as a pristine natural environment, but it’s better than nothing. Some rest areas and trucks stops have trails or paths that you can venture onto so take the opportunity. You might not feel like it, but you will end up with a better sleep when you’re shut down for the night.
Finally…Know the Signs and Take a Break
Nodding off? Distracted? Drifting? Can’t recall how you got to where you’re at? Just stop. No load is worth the risk of running at the point of exhaustion. If you need a break, take one. Have a 20-minute power nap in your bunk. Set your alarm and look after your wellbeing. You and the drivers around you need you to be at the top of your game.
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