Tips for Helping Long-Haul Drivers Stay Awake

Strong Tie Insurance February 14, 2020 Commercial Truck Insurance StrongtieInsurance

Long-haul truckers deal with various risks while on the job. From hazardous weather conditions to sharing the highways with unsafe drivers, truckers have to be ready for anything. Outside of external forces, commercial truckers also have to combat internal issues like drowsiness and falling asleep at the wheel. Even if you don’t completely doze off, driving while tired can reduce your reaction time and increase dangers on the road. Accidents caused by sleepy drivers can cost a great deal in commercial insurance policy hikes, damage to your truck or its cargo, or even a loss of life.

Whether you’re a new long-haul driver or you’ve been at it for years, here are some tips to help you stay awake on the road:

Get Plenty of Rest

The first and most important key to fighting drowsiness on the road is to make sure you’re well-rested. It may not seem like a big deal to stay out late or skip on quality sleep, but even dozing off for a second could cost you everything. When you have a long-haul trip coming up, try to get several nights of sleep. Merely getting one full night of sleep isn’t going to cut it. Try to stack in several days of quality sleep before your big trip.

Getting rest also applies while on the road. Whether you sleep in hotels, crash at a friend’s house, or make sure of sleeping space in your cabin: make sure you get enough rest. Waiting until you start to get drowsy before you take action is already too late. Have a plan in place so you know you’ll get enough sleep. While you might feel the pressure to drive through the tiredness to complete your job, a quick delivery is not worth your livelihood or your life.

Power Naps Save Lives

If you find yourself out on the road with heavy eyelids, a short power nap might be precisely what you need. Some drivers swear that a 20 to 30-minute power nap before they start their shift does wonders. Others suggest at least 45 minutes. Generally speaking, anything less than an hour is a power nap. This short slumber can recharge your batteries, give you a chance to restart, and can prevent you from causing an accident.

Start Your Trip When The Sun Rises

Our bodies have a natural clock that is mostly in sync with the sun. While you can train your body to handle a third-shift lifestyle, you’ll be much better off embracing your true nature. Our bodies are used to being awake, full of energy, and maintaining a certain level of stamina when the sun is up. Putting in the majority of your drive during daylight hours will keep you better energized and awake. Think of yourself as a solar panel so do your best to keep charged.

While you generally want to hit the road while the sun is up, avoid driving in situations where you’ll be heading directly into the sun while it’s rising or setting. When the sun is just on the horizon, it can cause issues with visibility. Imagine trying to drive with someone shining a flashlight directly into your eyes. Plan your trip accordingly.

Stay Hydrated

Some people swear that drinking water makes them sleepy. While everyone reacts to things differently, evidence supports the idea that hydration helps keep you awake. It’s possible that you’ll have to make more bathroom stops, but these stops are worth it. Not only can you relieve yourself, but you can also get some fresh air and walk around for a moment. Being dehydrated is actually a more significant cause of fatigue.

You might think that downing energy drinks, sodas, or coffee will keep you hydrated while providing some caffeine for a pick-me-up. Caffeine can actually have the opposite effect: it’s going to make you go to the bathroom more frequently while also adding to your dehydration. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy a cup of joe or a soda on your trip, just make sure you’re drinking plenty of water as well to help keep your hydration levels in the right spot.

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Turn On and Tune In

While you never want to drive distracted, there are ways to remain entertained while still being able to focus on the road. There is an almost endless supply of audiobooks, podcasts, and talk radio programs to keep your attention behind the wheel. You can certainly listen to music, but it’s far too easy to kind of zone out while singing along. If you get into an exciting audiobook, you’re more likely to stay awake. It’s much like how it’s difficult to fall asleep when someone is talking to you. You’ll also find a plethora of free podcasts available that cover just about any topic you can imagine. From comedy shows to educational podcasts, you can stay entertained, engaged, and informed while getting the job done.

Lose the Heat

When driving through some colder climates, a warm truck is more likely to put you to sleep. Turning down the heat makes it more difficult for your body to doze off. You can even roll down your windows to help create a colder cabin. There’s no need to freeze the entire time you’re working, of course. Instead, find a temperature that is just cold enough to make you feel mildly uncomfortable. You’ll have trouble relaxing enough to actually fall asleep and can make it to the next nap point.

Stay Healthy

It’s easy to use a long drive as an excuse to stuff ourselves with fast food, road snacks, and sugary drinks. These items might give you a little kick for a minute or two, but they’ll end up doing more harm than good. Unhealthy eating habits can hurt your digestive system, lead to nausea, and give you a sluggish, sleepy feeling. Make sure to eat meals with plenty of protein, veggies, and fiber. The vitamins and minerals in these foods help fight off tiredness and ensure that you can get consistently good nights of sleep

Stay Awake and Save

Sleeping while tired can lead to various problems beyond being in an accident. You can actually be pulled over and given a citation for sleepy driving. Police patrols are cracking down on long-haul truckers who continue driving when they should be sleeping. Whether you get in an accident or just get a ticket, sleepy driving will increase your commercial trucking insurance rates. On the flipside, safe drivers often pay lower insurance premiums.