It’s no secret that life on the road can be challenging – and truck driver fatigue is a leading cause of road accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) estimates that driver fatigue plays a role in nearly 40% of all semi-truck accidents.
With truck drivers facing long and grueling drives, what can you do to battle fatigue and stay alert on the road?
If you’re unsure where to start or know that your current habits aren’t helping your driving fatigue, then the tips and tricks in this article are a great place to start.
Keep reading to learn six ways to reduce truck driver fatigue – and feel better, too.
Take regular breaks when driving
One of the most important – if not the most important – habits to get into when driving long haul is to take regular breaks.
Crucially, breaks need to be taken whether you’re feeling tired or not.
Working shifts at all times of day and night can mess with your internal clock – meaning you might not be able to tell when you’re good to keep going and when you need to take a break.
Taking a short break from driving roughly every two hours can give you a chance to stretch, get some fresh air, and give your eyes a break from focusing on the road ahead.
The FMCSA requires drivers to take at least a 30-minute break for every 8 hours of drive time. This longer break allows you to grab a meal or take a power nap. However, making it your only stop has a high chance of worsening your driver fatigue.
Create a sleep schedule (and stick to it)
Similarly, it’s super important to create a sleep schedule when on the road and stick to it.
Making sure to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep the night before you drive can be challenging if you’re sleeping in your cab, but it’s a must to keep driver fatigue at bay.
Tired driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving, and getting a good quality rest before you hit the road will help to keep you alert and feeling your best.
During a long break, a short nap can work wonders for fatigue, restoring alertness, enhancing performance, and reducing the risk of accidents.
Have healthy snacks on board
It’s no secret that truck stop food isn’t known for its health benefits.
Keeping a selection of healthy snacks on board can help save you from expensive and unhealthy pit stop options. Make sure to choose snacks you’ll want to eat – granola bars or pre-prepped fruit. Low blood sugar contributes to driver fatigue, so make sure to eat when you’re hungry and not leave too much time between meals.
Not only will snacks keep you going on those long drives, but opting for a healthy diet will help ensure you get the nutrients you need to maintain your health long term.
While it might seem obvious advice, staying hydrated on long drives can often fall to the wayside – especially if you don’t feel like facing the truck stop restrooms.
However, dehydration can lead to many symptoms, including drowsiness, headaches, dizziness, and reduced reaction times.
Truck drivers are particularly at risk of dehydration, so it’s essential to prioritize keeping hydrated. Stocking your truck with water bottles or water-rich food options can be a great way to stave off dehydration without making frequent stops to grab a drink.
Keep caffeine and alcohol to a minimum
This tip follows right on from our tip about staying hydrated.
Caffeine and alcohol are excellent at dehydrating our bodies; even when consumed off shift, the effects can linger into the next day.
A caffeine crash or hangover will only worsen your driver fatigue, so ensure you drink enough water to rehydrate your body before hitting the road again.
Caffeine can be a great tool on those long drives, but limiting your consumption can ensure you still get the sleep you need that night.
Have some company on (and off) the road
Keeping in touch with friends and family can be tricky when you’re away for long periods.
Some drivers choose to combat this by driving with a spouse or partner – half the drive time, anybody? If you’ve ever had a friend keep you awake during a late drive, you’ll know that company is a great way to tackle driver fatigue.
If you’re not lucky enough to have company on the road with you, then touching base with loved ones during breaks can be a great way to break up the monotony of long drives.
Whether it’s via a video call or a quick text, social contact can also help to bust some of that long-haul stress – yet another factor that can add to your driver fatigue.
Ready to keep truck driver fatigue at bay?
If you’re looking to drive with a company that will enable you to prioritize your health on the road, then the team at Jansson is waiting to hear from you.
At Jansson, we provide flatbed, step deck, and heavy haul OTR trucking as an independent agent of the Fortune 500 logistics company Landstar.
To find out more about driving with Jansson or to put in an application, reach out to our careers team today!