Managing Driver Fatigue: Tips for Staying Alert and Safe on the Road

Last Updated:
April 11, 2023
Kay Nicole

Managing Driver Fatigue: Tips for Staying Alert and Safe on the Road

Truckers spend days, weeks, and even months driving a truck. And although there are norms of working hours and norms of being behind the wheel, this does not negate the human factor. Namely, a person can get tired. Namely, driver fatigue is considered the main factor in road accidents. Fatigue is dangerous because it can lead to drowsiness, loss of concentration, and, as a result, terrible accidents. And you and I understand that an accident with a truck rarely ends with a couple of scratches. Usually, these are devastating tragedies with victims, and even if this was avoided, the damage to the truck and other cars could be irreparable.

In general, we all understand that accidents should not be allowed on the roads. But this means that we should not allow fatigue, which should be closely monitored by transport companies, dispatchers, and truckers. So, what to do? We will tell you in this article.

What causes fatigue?

Let's take the example of an employee who works with a dry van load. Why may he feel tired? There are 4 main reasons:

  1. Lack of sleep: due to working at night; monotonous work for a long time; or during certain hours at which a person usually feels tired (for example, from 1:00 to 6:00 or from 14:00 to 16:00).
  2. Stress: High levels of stress can have a negative impact on your physical and mental state, which can lead to fatigue;
  3. Lack of physical activity: Lack of physical activity and prolonged driving can lead to fatigue and decreased energy;
  4. Improper nutrition: Improper nutrition, such as eating large amounts of fatty, heavy or sugary foods, can have a negative impact on your physical and mental state.

What should you do if you feel tired? Pull over to the side of the road and take a good nap. Otherwise, you may have a microsleep.

Microsleep is when you fall asleep for a few seconds or minutes. Every trucker has experienced this once. Micro dreams are one of the frequent causes of accidents. When we hear on the news that the driver fell asleep and lost control, we imagine a real dream. But a micro dream is not the same as a dream. The worst thing is, at this moment, you do not realize that you are dreaming. Your eyes are open, you feel the steering wheel, and the road merges into one big canvas. You realize that it was a micro dream after a rude awakening.

Microsleeping is dangerous when driving a car. During a 4-second micro sleep, a car moving at a speed of 100 km/h will travel 111 meters, entirely out of the driver's control.

How to avoid fatigue

There are some tips that will help truckers not to get into an accident due to fatigue. Let's just say that coffee or energy will not help here.

  • Sleep well before work - at least 8 hours of quality sleep without interruptions
  • Keep track of working hours - spend no more than 10 hours a day behind the wheel. Firstly, it is dangerous. Secondly, it is illegal.
  • Take regular 15-minute breaks to get some air, stretch, eat, or sit in silence.
  • Eat the right food with vitamins and trace elements. Food should give you energy and strength, not drowsiness. And what do we feel when we eat fast food? It is drowsiness and an overflowing stomach.
  • Do not take medications that may cause drowsiness before traveling
  • Do not drink alcohol before work
  • If possible, then refuse to work at night to avoid the possibility of accidents.

As you can see, these rules are quite simple and obvious. But as often happens, it is in these simple rules that the truth lies. Because if you don't sleep well, eat right, drink a lot of water, and rest, you will feel treacherous fatigue. Which can cause a fatal error at the wheel.

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