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Long-haul Truckers and Drowsiness: How to Beat Driver Fatigue

Long-haul Truckers and Drowsiness

Driver fatigue goes beyond tiredness and boredom. It’s an overwhelming, uncontrollable mental and physical exhaustion that comes with long-haul driving. According to the FMCSA, driver fatigue is caused by lack of enough sleep, extended working hours, strenuous work/non-work activities, or a combination of these and many other factors. Drivers who are constantly fatigued are at a higher risk of causing accidents.

Approximately 13% of truck drivers who are involved in accidents on US roads are considered fatigued at the time of the accident. However, according to the NHTSA, there is a broad consensus that driver fatigue-related accidents are underestimated given data is heavily reliant on police and medical reports. So, how can truckers battle driver fatigue?

Re-evaluate your sleeping patterns

In the trucking business, more driving means more money. It’s therefore understandable why some drivers are tempted to driver more than they should. While it’s not possible to have sleeping patterns of a regular person (i.e., 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep), it’s possible to craft sleeping patterns that work for your schedules i.e., getting multiple naps.

While most people find naps to be a total waste of time, NASA research shows otherwise. Naps have been proven to restore alertness, boost performance, as well as reduce accidents and mistakes. In the study, sleepy astronauts and military pilots registered a 34% increase in performance and 100% increase in alertness after a 40-minute nap. The research debunks myths surrounding short naps. If astronauts and military pilots benefit from short naps, tired truckers can benefit as well.

Maintain a healthy diet

There is a proven link between fatigue and a bad diet. While fast foods are convenient and tasty, they are a major contributor to fatigue. The body burns food to produce energy, so your diet matters a lot. Junk foods may be packed with carbs, but they are low in other essential nutrients. They are also linked to chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. You should avoid junk foods if you suffer from fatigue or eliminate the foods altogether.

Limit your stimulant intake, avoid taking depressants completely when working

Depressants like alcohol should be avoided completely for obvious reasons. Alcohol has many effects, including fatigue, malnutrition, impaired thinking, and behavioral changes that are all lethal to truckers and persons who drive for a living. Let’s not even mention the risk of getting chronic diseases like cancer.

Stimulants like caffeine aren’t any better. While they may provide temporary alertness, stimulants postpone tiredness instead of getting rid of it. They also come with many other risks ranging from addiction to concentration problems. Illegal stimulant drugs like cocaine have serious effects that go beyond medical health problems.

Drink enough water

Water intake varies based on factors like your age, activity levels, and surroundings. However, NASEM (National Academy of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine) has general recommendations for men and women i.e., 3.7 liters and 2.7 liters respectively. The most important consideration to make is – water does more than quench your thirst. According to the CDC, water is responsible for numerous bodily functions ranging from regulating body temperature to protecting sensitive tissues. All of these functions “boil down” to maintaining overall health, which includes combating fatigue.

Prioritize comfort

Truckers spend most of their time in their trucks. It’s, therefore, important to ensure your environment doesn’t contribute to your fatigue. Constant jarring and bouncing can contribute to driver fatigue and other effects such as spinal degradation, back pain, and general soreness. Remedies like seat suspension can reduce fatigue and related problems. A recent Bose study found seat suspension to improve fatigue in 66% of drivers. The study also discovered other benefits such as reduced soreness and stiffness. While installing seat suspension may not be within a driver’s domain, there are things a trucker can do to improve their seat and reduce tiredness i.e., investing in some good seat pillows.

The above tips summarize what you can do to reduce driver fatigue and related problems like truck accidents. While the above tips are general and not intended to replace medical advice, they have been proven to help.

If you consider all the above and still get into a truck accident that isn’t your fault, Oberheiden Law can help. The law firm has helped hundreds of truckers in the US get fair settlements. If you got injured because of some other driver’s fault, Oberheiden Law can fight for you. We’ve won $60 billion + in settlements for personal injury victims. Get a ZERO fee consultation NOW.

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