It’s no secret that truck drivers spend a lot of time on the road. Hours delivering important goods can add up quickly, but what happens when a truck driver does not get enough proper rest? It can be life-threating for the driver and other people on the road. It is crucial that drivers, especially truck drivers stay alert on the road. We have gathered up some tips to help when sleepiness sets in on the road.
Don’t Fight It
If you can, start your journey well rested. When you are on the road and are feeling drowsy, find a safe place to pull over and take a short rest. Research shows a power nap of less than an hour will provide your body with plenty of energy to keep moving forward for hours.
Sugar can provide you with temporary energy but what happens when the crash comes? Eating healthy food on the road can help you to continue moving and meeting those critical deadlines. Maybe instead of candy or a donut consider easy finger food that will keep you chewing and alert and provide you with last energy. Some of examples of that would be carrots, celery, trail mix or almonds. Some other options that won’t keep your stomach full but will keep you busy are sunflower seeds or gum.
What to Drink?
We all know that coffee is sold as an energy burst, which is true but too much coffee can cause a caffeine crash. When you are on the road it is best to drink small amounts of coffee with larger amounts of water. Avoid sugary drinks that could cause an upset stomach or a sugar crash.
Phone a friend
If you have cell service and can safely make a handsfree phone call then the perfect time to catch up with loved ones is on the road. If your mouth is moving then you will be alert, keep that in mind. Try to schedule calls while you are on the road so that you can keep your mind active while driving. The plus to this is, it’s good for the soul to talk to loved ones!
For a short amount of time, cranking the AC or cracking a window can help you to stay alert. But please note, this is not a long-term solution. If you are feeling drowsy enough to open a window or crank the AC it might be time to start looking for a safe place to pull over and take one of those power naps.
Before you start out on your trip, know where you are going, how long it is going to take, where you are going to stop for bathroom breaks, food breaks and overnight stops. This may help with avoid driving into awkward lighting like sunrise or sunsets which will make for a much easier and safer drive.
Take ‘Energy’ Breaks
If anyone sat in the same spot for too long, they would become tired and not as alert as they could be. When you are ready to stop, think about doing some jumping jacks or quickly walk around your truck 10 times. This can help to kick start your energy levels and keep you alert for hours.
We know there are many other ways to keep alert on the road. Some of it is trial and error when you are on the road since every individual is different. The main thing is to find out what works best for you.
Is there any advice you would pass on to fellow truck drivers or travelers?
Today, technology can be overwhelming. There are many options on the market, it can be a difficult decision figuring out what type of technology your fleet or truck could use and whether the return on investment will be worth it.
The other tricky thing about technology is that it is constantly changing. You always risk adding something to your truck and finding out a couple years or even months later that it is obsolete or needs constant updates that can be money or time consuming.
That all being said, technology has major advantages on the road. It can be time-saving, accident preventing and can save money if used properly.
Electronic logging devices are now mandatory in Canada and the United States. These devices electronically log commercial trucks hours of service to ensure drivers operating these vehicles are within the legal requirements of driving and resting. Some people who own smaller owner-operator businesses believe that e-logs make them less competitive, that the only way for them to keep up is to ‘stretch the truth’ when they log their hours of service. But owners who have been in the business for years can see the advantage of using them. One owner said that it took nearly two years to change over the whole fleet but once he did, he found that it contributed to his fleet doubling and it improved the drivers work life drastically.
A technology that has been evolving in the past 15 years or so is driver’s scorecards. When they were first introduced, they got a bad reputation for being the tool that could help ‘shame’ drivers into doing better on the road. They have since evolved into a great tool on the road that is more accurate and takes into considerations far more factors such as load type and transmission shifting data. The information is now a great tool for driver coaches to share with trainees and is a valuable training tool.
A forward-looking camera system more familiarly known as a ‘dash cam’ have been around for years but like most technology has improved immensely in quality. They are getting smaller in size and larger in functionality such as storage space, nighttime vision and high-definition imagery. These camera systems are a great way to protect the driver of the truck. It can be a way to defend the driver in a false insurance claim, for example, if someone is looking for an easy way to cash in on their vehicle by making a false claim the camera can capture the accident to prove the innocence of the driver.
There are many different ways to let technology help you on the road that we have not listed here. You have to find what suits your operation best. Whether you are an owner-operator or own a large fleet technology is something to consider. It will be an investment and take time to install and learn but at the end of the day it could be a real positive factor on your bottom line, safety of your drivers and efficiency on the road.
What Does Distracted Driving Look Like?
Distracted driving can look so different depending on the situation. There are times that drivers may not even realize they are putting themselves and other people on the road in danger. Distracted driving can be as little as looking at the temperature control. Other driving distractions include someone or something happening outside the vehicle, passengers, eating, drinking, smoking or a mobile device.
It is a known fact that truck drivers can spend countless hours in their trucks. With long days and nights on the road, there is no doubt being stuck in the truck can get boring. When boredom sets in it is easy to get distracted. Distracted driving is extremely dangerous and, in most cases, avoidable.
What is the Risk of Distracted Driving?
There are obvious risks when it comes to distracted driving. You are putting yourself and everyone else on the road in danger. This is especially apparent when you are one of the largest machines, if not the largest machine, on the road. This paired with heavy loads and busy roads can be fatal. The worse-case scenario of distracted driving can be fatal. If not fatal, distracted driving can cause damage to your truck, other vehicles, bodily harm or downtime and loss of income.
In the United States, according to the Federal Motor Carrier
Safety Administration, truck drivers who text and drive are 23 times more
likely to be involved in a serious incident while drivers who talk on a
handheld device are 6 times more likely to be involved in a serious incident.
How can Distracted Driving be Prevented?
Being prepared can go a long way in preventing distracted
driving while on the road. Before you hit the road think ahead. Get comfortable
in your seat, have something to eat and put your cell phone away. While you are
driving, keep your mind focused on the road so that if something comes up you
can react as quickly as possible. If you do need to make a call or send a
message, pull over in a safe area and use your mobile device.
Testing in a Safe Environment
If you had a chance to see how well you can handle
distracted driving would you? How well do you think you would do? Most truck
drivers believe they are able to handle being distracted while driving. Our
friends over at Bison Transport, put that to the test and ended up with an
interesting simulated video. The skilled truck drivers were surprised with the
results. Take a look at the video here.