Tips for Staying Awake on Long Shifts

Truck drivers spend long shifts that can legally last up to fourteen hours in a day or night, or a combination of the two into part of a night and part of a day. Transport drivers are allowed to drive for up to a total of eleven hours in each fourteen-hour shift. Besides driving, a shift will include such on-duty   tasks as loading, or unloading during which times are known as detention. Other duties include pre-trip and post-trip inspections of their truck, planning their trip route and checking weather, fueling, checking tire pressures, receiving dispatches, and others.

Always Awake and Alert

Many of their duties become routine and may almost be carried out without conscious thought even while driving. As a truck driver, that should scare you. When you are in control of a tractor trailer weighing up to eighty thousand pounds at highway speeds maneuvering amongst traffic with other trucks and dozens of smaller vehicles you must maintain clarity in your mind to avoid dangerous moves by yourself and every other driver within your vicinity. And you must remain awake and alert at all times. 

Distractions Happen

Staying alert may not always be easy. Driving a truck comes with many stressors that may cloud your mind and take precedence over road awareness. Lack of sleep plays a big role in defeating a truck driver’s conscious awareness. Stress affects drivers’ alertness and awareness by clouding their thoughts and disturbing their sleep. It’s like a double-edged sword that robs drivers of focus. Ample sleep is the first factor for dismissing stressful thoughts and restoring much needed focus on the job.

Caffeine is not Always the Answer

Some drivers rely on caffeine to help with mental keenness. But caffeine is a short-term answer for upping a driver’s alertness and it may not help much with drowsiness. Experts agree a drowsy driver must get off the highway to a safe place and take a nap. A short nap of twenty to thirty minutes is usually good for restoring alertness, making a driver less likely to be involved in an incident whether night or day.

Make a Sleep Plan

But the absolute best tactic you as a driver can employ is to develop a sleep plan and work it as your trip schedule allows. It may take time to develop and become a routine but it’s well worth the lives it protects, one of which could be yours.

Boost Your Nutrition

Eat healthy meals for better nutrition to improve and maintain good health. And never consume alcohol when on the road. It affects judgment and can cost lives. Small meals prevent food comas. Keep healthy snacks on hand instead and munch when needed. And stay hydrated.

A few more tips:

  1. Start your shift fresh by getting adequate sleep before leaving out. At least seven hours of good sleep will get you down the road.
  2. Don’t take medications that make you drowsy.
  3. Use vitamins for good health.
  4. Take a nap whenever you feel drowsy. No load is worth anyone’s life, especially yours.
  5. Take breaks and go for a walk to get moving or work up an exercise routine.

Good health is the best cure for a driver’s health and welfare. Motor on, stay healthy and alert, and prosper.

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