Do Not Fall Asleep on The Wheel: A Trucker’s Guide to Driving Safely

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man driving the truck

Vehicular Accidents

Being a driver or trucker isn’t an easy job and has its risks. In 2012, around 317,000 vehicular accidents involved a large truck, alongside injuries amounting to an estimated 26,000 people injured from crashes and accidents, passengers, and drivers included. Fatalities of crashes also include around 700 drivers and passengers. Despite 2012 statistics, drivers must be alert and cautious when handling vehicles such as trucks, semis, and tankers with many wheels to avoid even the smallest of driving errors, which can result in accidents, injuries, and even death.

Driver Fatigue

Even when following safety guidelines, buckling up, and being sufficiently trained in driving large vehicles, drivers can face sleepiness, adding to vehicular accidents and statistics.  While shaking off fatigue and tiredness is part of the job, it doesn’t make it helpful when traveling for miles and miles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a study in 2007 that showed fatigue as a critical factor in 13% of large and commercial vehicles, alongside equipment failure such as malfunctioning parts, leaks, or improperly installed parts such as shift knobs, brake parts, or semi quarter fenders.

Most Drivers indicate they overcome the fatigue from years of experience; however, some of the resort to the following illnesses or activities:

  • The use of illegal drugs such as cocaine and marijuana keep drivers awake, with some using a combination of these drugs with caffeine. This ultimately impairs driving ability and make drivers claim they are fine when they need rest.
  • The shifting hours of driving may leave drivers resorting to sleeping pills, which may leave them even more tired.
  • Sleep apnea results in more fatigue and decreased hours of sleep, with required sleeping hours being 7 to 9 hours each day.

man talking to the radio in the truck

Safety Guiding Tips

To avoid fatigue, vehicular accidents, and fatalities, educate yourself or a driver you know about easing fatigue and drowsiness.

  • Get as much sleep before driving, taking advantage of the 34 hour grace period between driving and rest. Your body may not be getting enough sleep as it is, so make use of the time to get rest.
  • Pulling over to take naps can help fight drowsiness. Even on a schedule, taking at least 45 minutes to rest is more beneficial than getting into an accident. Taking naps even before you are drowsy is more effective than caffeine or drugs.
  • Choosing not to drive at night is ideal. Instead, the time should be used for rest. Nighttime may mean open roads but naturally induces drowsiness.
  • Avoid medications that can cause drowsiness, including but not limited to cold medicines, sleeping pills, or allergy meds.
  • Eat foods rich in nutrition such as protein and carbohydrates. Hunger also causes fatigue. Greasy foods also make it harder to have a good rest.
  • Blasting the music and rolling down the window may help ease drowsiness, but will only work for a while. Getting sleep is still your body’s best option.
  • Using alerts to keep you awake can help you monitor your fatigue and level of drowsiness.

While road and vehicular accidents happen due to equipment failure and human error, any driver has to be aware of fatigue and manage it the best way they can. Honoring your body’s needs is not only healthy but also reduces the chances of road and vehicular accidents.