While most long-haul truck drivers experience drivers fatigue on occasion, no driver should feel fatigued every day they are on the road. If you experience frequent or chronic drivers fatigue, then you can help conquer this problem by changing just a few of your daily habits.
Read on to learn five tips for battling chronic drivers fatigue so you can keep yourself and others safer on the road.
1. Get Plenty of Restful Sleep
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that a lack of sleep contributes to about 30 to 40 percent of all highway automobile accidents. For this reason, the most important way to combat drivers fatigue is to get plenty of restful sleep between shifts on the road.
While the average trucker sleeps about 5 hours each night, you should aim to sleep about 7 to 9 hours every night to feel fully alert during your next driving shift. If you find that you cannot sleep this long in one stretch, then take naps when possible to increase the total amount of sleep you obtain during a 24-hour time frame.
If you already obtain plenty of sleep, yet still frequently feel tired behind the wheel, then you should ask your doctor to perform a sleep test to determine if you suffer from a sleep disorder that leads to less restful sleep.
One common sleep disorder that can lead to daytime sleepiness is called sleep apnea. A person suffering from this disorder repeatedly stops and starts breathing again while sleeping, which leads to less restful sleep. Treatment of this disorder typically consists of wearing a simple device at night called a CPAP machine that improves nighttime breathing to minimize sleep disruptions.
2. Drink More Water
Many long-haul truck drivers drink less water than they should to help prevent the need for frequent stops at highway rest stations, while others drink only coffee and other highly caffeinated beverages instead of water.
However, the mild dehydration that results from a lack of water consumption can lead to an increase in drowsiness, muscle cramps, and even headaches, along with a feeling of overall fatigue.
To combat dehydration, drink six to eight glasses of water every day. If you find yourself stopping at highway rest stations too often when drinking plenty of water, then consider keeping a portable trucker’s urinal in your truck to reduce your number of stops.
3. Begin Exercising
Many long-haul truckers do not exercise as much as the they should. However, exercise is not only important for long-term physical health, but it can also increase alertness while driving. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and activates a brain region called the hippocampus to help improve cognitive function. In addition, regular exercise may help to combat depression that can contribute to fatigue.
While getting exercise when on the road can be tough, remember that any physical movement you work into your day is better than none. Consider taking a walk or jog in the morning before beginning your work day, engaging in a stretching routine one or twice a day, or even performing a few jumping jacks before each meal.
4. Try These Alertness Tricks
Even if you take every step you can to ward off drivers fatigue, you may occasionally find that your alertness level drops due to simple boredom or other problems that you cannot remedy with a nap. Before you grab an extra cup of coffee, try these alertness boosting tricks:
- Cool down your cab. Some drivers feel more alert when the air in their cab is cool.
- Open a window. Others find that a burst of fresh air helps reduce fatigue.
- Pop a peppermint candy. Studies show that the taste and smell of peppermint can help boost alertness levels.
Also look for fatigue-fighting solutions that are unique to you. For example, listening to an old favorite upbeat song or looking at a favorite family photo may help boost your mood to increase alertness.
5. Wear a Fatigue-Fighting Bracelet
If you suffer from frequent drowsiness while driving, then you may want to begin wearing a special bracelet designed for drivers like you. These bracelets all vary in design, but a popular version constantly monitors your body for physical signs of drowsiness, such as a change in heart rate, and then vibrates to signal you to pull off of the road to take a nap or take another step to increase your alertness.
Some bracelets even deliver mild, harmless electrical jolts to arouse you if the monitors sense you are on the brink of falling asleep and need awakened in a flash.
Drivers fatigue is extremely common in the trucking industry. Follow these five tips to combat this fatigue and increase alertness when on the road to help prevent the auto accidents that drivers fatigue can contribute to. Contact the staff at Arrow Truck Sales for all of your truck needs today.