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Driving fatigue has costly and, sometimes, catastrophic effects on the physical and mental health, overall safety, and quality of life not just of the truckers but also of the American public. Regardless of the cause of trucker exhaustion, the negative results can be the same—impaired performance, responsiveness, and alertness while driving, health issues, vehicle crashes, and job site accidents.
According to the NHTSA, in 2017, nearly 91,000 police-reported accidents are due to drowsy driving. These mishaps resulted in about 50,000 people injured and around 800 fatalities. If you are pursuing a career in the trucking industry, you must learn to deal with driving fatigue to not contribute to this census. Below are some tips to keep in mind:
Get enough zzz's.
If you are tasked to keep a multi-ton vehicle on the road, falling asleep on the job is a big NO. Being a little groggy while driving can have fatal consequences. To function at your best during your driving shift, make sure you get enough sleep. Adults must catch at least seven hours of sleep a day to be physically and mentally ready to tackle their job. If you are well-rested, you will be more responsive and alert. This reduces your risk of getting involved in a crash due to drowsy driving.
Make it your goal to catch a good night's sleep every night. Should you have trouble sleeping, try to sleep in a quiet and cozy room and stop using electronic gadgets before going to bed. Maintain the same sleeping pattern even on your days off, so you won't have any problem with your body once you get back to work.
Eat healthy food.
Truckers tend to rely on fast food because they are quick and easy to prepare. You should learn to forego your dependence on fast food if you want to maintain a healthy diet. It can be challenging and will require determination, but it is achievable. Remember that food fuels your body, so whatever you consume will make a huge difference. Your body should get the recommended dose of vitamins and nutrients that you can get only from healthy food and snacks.
Try to pack food from home, especially healthy snacks like apples, bananas, salads, sandwiches, and almonds. If it is possible, avoid taking in heavy metals. It takes a lot of energy to digest them, and it can contribute to your driving fatigue. While on a trip, eat smaller proportions yet healthy and balanced meals.
When you are in for the long haul, trust in the power of water to keep you hydrated throughout your trip. Dehydration can cause headaches and fatigue. While coffee, tea, and energy drinks can provide a sudden burst of energy, only water can keep that energy up towards the end of your trip.
Limit caffeine and alcohol intake. Caffeine goes to the brain and can block the receptors, causing you to be wide awake but just for a while. It can have significant effects on the body in the long run. This drink can cause a "caffeine crash," which makes you feel more tired.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that caffeine also raises the adrenaline released by the body, which causes dizziness, headaches, headaches, and an increase in blood pressure.
Be more active.
Though you are confined within the constraints of a schedule or shift, find a few minutes during your breaks to get regular exercise. Try to walk around the truck stop or just around your truck every time you go down the truck cabin to take a break. A little bit of stretching is also good for your body and your driving performance.
Take some breaks.
Whenever you feel tired, pull over to the nearest truck stop or on the safe side of the road and take a rest. Go out of your truck to stretch and get some fresh air. It won't hurt to power up by taking a power nap, especially when you feel drowsy. Short naps are proven effective in restoring energy levels. The National Sleep Foundation said that naps could "restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents." A NASA study proves that a 40-minute nap has improved pilot performance by 34% and alertness by 100%.
Keep your truck cool.
Keep tabs on your truck cockpit's temperature, making sure it will help keep you awake than make you sleepy. Remember that you will spend much of your time in your truck's cabin, so you must exert effort in ensuring that it will not contribute to your fatigue. When you get uneasy due to the temperature, you can drive with an open window or turn on the air conditioning system—anything that would keep you cool and stop you from dozing off.
Maintain proper posture.
Improving your posture helps in reducing driver's fatigue. While improper driving posture can be addressed using proper truck seats, the trucker's posture is as important when it comes to avoiding lower back pains and other signs of driving fatigue. Keep your seat high, making sure your pelvis is in the right position and your feet comfortably reach the foot pedals. Be sure also that the height of your seat does not impair your road vision and that your head does not touch the roof. Your elbows must be kept low and close to your body so that your shoulder will also be in the right position, preventing you from slouching.
Check your medication.
If you are taking any medications, check if they can cause drowsiness if you plan on taking a trucking career. Read the medicine's label as most drowsiness-inducing medications have a label warning you to avoid driving a vehicle or operating a machine during use. Among the medicines that may make you drowsy are sleeping pills, tranquilizers, and medicines for allergy and colds.
FinditParts is here to help you battle driver fatigue. It offers top-quality products that could improve your posture while driving, keep your truck's air conditioning in proper working order, and make you catch some power naps. Here, you will find comfortable and durable truck seats and lumbar support, seat valve, and restraint belt. We've also got a wide range of truck air conditioning products, including A/C evaporators, compressors, condensers, accumulators, hoses, and many others. You can also count on us to provide you with comfy foam and heated blankets, and other products to help you get a sound sleep.