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6 Tips to Prevent Driver Fatigue

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Being a truck driver can be a stressful job. Between tight load deadlines, truck parking issues, constantly changing regulations, and being away from home and family truck drivers can get stressed and feel burned out. But these tips can keep you in tip top shape, so you can stay healthy and feel well rested.

What is fatigue?

Driver fatigue is used a lot in the trucking industry, but what is it? Fatigue is a lack of physical or mental energy that hurts performance. This can be because you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re working too many hours, or because of stressful work and non-work activities.

Driver fatigue is also part of the FMCSA’s CSA HOS Compliance BASIC, meaning you shouldn’t drive more hours than allowed under HOS regulations requirements. Driving beyond your requirements puts you at risk for driver fatigue and violations.

So how do you prevent driver fatigue?

  1. Get Enough Sleep: Aim to get a good night’s sleep every night. If possible, don’t drive when your body is naturally drowsy, between midnight – 6:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Drowsiness can decrease your response time and increase the chances of being in a crash. If you start to feel sleepy while you’re driving, choose a safe place to pull over and rest.
  2. Keep a Healthy Diet: Skipping meals or eating at odd times can make you feel tired or give you food cravings. It can also hurt your sleep if you go to bed on an empty stomach or eat a heavy meal right before bed. A good option is to try a light snack before bed for a restful night. Check out these tips to help you keep a healthy lifestyle.
  3. Take a Nap: Short naps are a great way to get energy, so try a quick nap if you’re feeling drowsy or less alert. Naps should last a minimum of 10 minutes and no more than 45 minutes. Give yourself at least 15 minutes after your nap to wake up before you start driving.
  4. Avoid Medication That Can Cause Drowsiness: Check your medication for labels that tell you not to drive or operate machinery when taking them. Some of these medicines include muscle relaxers, sleeping pills, allergy medicines, and cold medicines. Talk to your doctor before you get behind the wheel if you’re taking any of these.
  5. Recognize the Signs and Dangers of Drowsiness: Symptoms of drowsiness include frequent yawning, heavy eyes and blurred vision. Research says that being awake for 18 hours is like having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%, which is legally intoxicated and can put you at greater risk for a crash.
  6. Don’t Use “Alertness Tricks” to Keep You Awake: Smoking, turning up the radio, drinking coffee, opening the window and other “alertness tricks” aren’t good cures for drowsiness. And drinking too much coffee or soda can cause insomnia, headaches, irritability and nervousness. Rolling the window down or turning the radio up might help you feel more alert for a second, but won’t keep you alert.

We hope these tips help you stay well-rested and safe on the road. For more health tips, check out our blog posts for healthy snack ideas, on-the-road exercise tips, stress release tips, and more! Thanks to the FMCSA and Higginbotham for the tips.

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