How to Avoid Falling Asleep at the Wheel: Truck Driving Safety Tips
27 Aug 2014
The number of vehicles on the road today is unprecedented.
When combined with a simmering global recession where those that have work are working more hours than ever before, many drivers on the road may be compelled to burn the candle at both ends.
This means working longer hours without sleep, and more time on the road for both car drivers of cars and trucks alike.
Beasts of the road
The average truck and trailer ranges from 70 – 80 feet in length, its legal weight is 80,000 pounds (US), and as a result, it takes 40% longer than a car for a truck to make a complete stop.
This poses a large risk for everyone on the road, regardless of who’s feeling drowsy. It only takes a moment for the unthinkable to happen, and one only need to pull out their wallet and look at a family photo to know why I wrote this article.
Preventing fatalities on the road
There are a number of steps one can take to reduce the danger of being drowsy at the wheel, let alone falling asleep at it.
Here are 5 ways for a driver to avoid being drowsy at the wheel.
Yeah, I said it. Call me Captain Obvious. If you feel drowsy, even a 30 minute nap can put you back into the green, and allow you to navigate the road safely and concisely.
You don’t need a sleeper in the back of your truck, and you don’t need to book a hotel room. You can pull over wherever you are (provided it’s in a safe place as marked by highway authorities) and give your body the rest it so desperately needs.
Don’t overwhelm your body with large amounts of food on long trips. Instead, you can avoid getting drowsy at the wheel –and the infamous trucker gut—by eating smaller meals.
Instead of eating 2 – 3 meals per day, switch to 4 – 6 meals per day. This will help keep you awake and alert by properly aiding your blood glucose levels, and not overwhelming your body with digestion. Large, further spread out meals put your body into a rise and crash cycle that could put you and other drivers on the road in danger.
You might also want to consider eating fruit on an empty stomach before feeding it complex carbs, and eating low glycaemic food such as fruits and vegetables before bed so you wake up refreshed and alert the next day.
One last thing to keep in mind? Meat makes you sleepy, because no matter what species it is, your body requires more energy to properly digest it.
3. Drink water
Every major function of your body requires water, and a lack of water means bodily functions can become strained and inefficient. You may not want to make a pit stop every few cities or towns, but your energy levels rely on at least 8 tall glasses of water per day –and the walk to the bathroom will be good for you, too. It’s a little extra exercise you might not otherwise have had.
On the low down, if your urine is anything darker than a light shade of yellow, drink more water.
4. Cut back on sugar
This one’s common knowledge, and as any parent, uncle, sibling, teacher, or babysitter knows; sugar means moments of high energy, and than a horrible, mind numbing, inevitable crash. Let’s not make that a pun; if you’re that tired, trade the sugar for a 30 minute speed-nap.
5. Go for a walk
Get off your butt and get outside. If you’re a driver of trucks and make regular long-haul drives, or even several in-town hauls, don’t be a fool –get out and walk around every hour or so. Stretch out those muscles.
Not only does it keep you awake, it wakes up your body, too. If you’re really serious about safety and personal health, throw down a few pushups at the side of the road or at a rest stop. It will get the blood pumping and wake you up.
Notice how I didn’t suggest caffeine?
Caffeine should only be used in extreme situations. After all, it was first invented for military application, and as a temporary fix. Long term caffeine use dries you out, and has a whole host of negative health effects.