Being a truck driver comes with a lot of perks. From being your own boss to hitting the open road and seeing the country from a unique perspective, being a trucking professional can be ideal for someone looking for a little freedom. But it’s not without its own unique issues, like having to operate a heavy machine for hours on end.
Hauling big loads of cargo across the country means that drivers are sitting behind the wheel for up to 12 hours a day, which can be physically draining and affect their attention. Trucking while tired is especially dangerous for these professionals and opens the door to potential hazards related to their safety and the safety of those around them.
Getting a good night’s sleep is a must for truckers, but may be hard to attain when sticking to a schedule. Here’s a look at the dangers of tired driving and how truckers can instill some better sleeping habits in their everyday drives.
Dangers of Driving Tired
Driving becomes a challenge for anyone when they’re tired. But for truck drivers who have to haul heavy loads across a state or the country, driving while tired becomes even more of a challenge. By being tired, the likelihood of confusion and distraction taking hold and resulting in health and safety hazards grows.
According to the National Highway Safety Administration, more than 1,600 deaths occur every year due to sleepiness at the wheel. Dangers of bad sleeping habits include veering off the road, increasing the chance of insomnia, and causing a wreck. While having truck insurance in place can help with the legal and financial part of trucking accidents, but being aware of the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, even on the road, can help limit exposure to risks.
Getting a Good Night’s Rest
Here are some healthy trucking practices to put to use during off-hours as a trucking professional:
- Cut Down Screen Time: From streaming services like Netflix to Disney + to hopping online for a bit before bed, screens can disrupt the ability to fall asleep easier. One alternative is to limit screen time and opt to read a book before you go to bed instead. Artificial lights and blue light from screens trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime, something that leads to wanting to stay up past a healthy time.
- Eat Smaller Meals: After a long day on the road it might be tempting to eat a heavy meal to help you sleep better. This should actually be avoided as fatty foods will take a longer time to digest, which means you may have a harder time getting comfortable in bed. Stick with vegetables and lean proteins instead.
- Take Cat Naps at Truck Stops: If you find yourself getting a little sleepy behind the wheel, it doesn’t hurt to close your eyes for 10-15 minutes–if you can spare it–while you’re at a rest stop. This can help you rest up and cut down grogginess, and tide you over until you get to your final destination for the day.