Every driver understands the problem of driving while distracted, but driving while sleepy or drowsy is often underestimated. According to the CDC, drowsy driving is a major problem in the US. It’s estimated that up to 6,000 fatal crashes annually may be caused by drowsy driving.
The CDC goes on to comment that commercial drivers are more likely to drive while drowsy. Because commercial vehicles are so much bigger, the damage caused by a driver who is sleepy can be much worse than a recreational driver.
Truck insurance may take care of your damages if you get in an accident, but it won’t protect you from the loss of your reputation or the guilt you feel if anyone is seriously injured. Learn more about driving while drowsy and how to take steps to combat it.
What causes drowsy driving?
The National Safety Council likens drowsy driving to being under the influence of alcohol behind the wheel. The problem is that many drivers don’t even realize they are fatigued when driving. Driving while drowsy occurs for many reasons:
- Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy, often go undiagnosed and untreated.
- Medications often make drivers drowsy. Some drugs can cause prolonged drowsiness, so even if you wait a while after taking them, you can still feel the effects.
- Sleep deprivation makes people sleepy during the day.
- Overwork can make drivers fatigued. There’s a good reason that truck drivers have limits on how long they can stay on duty behind the wheel.
How does drowsiness impact your driving abilities?
Driving while feeling sleepy may not seem dangerous, but you are less able to pay attention to the road when you’re sleepy. Sleep deprivation slows your reaction time. At 65 mph, you don’t want anything impacting how quickly you react. A lack of sleep makes your thought processes slower and impacts your memory. It also puts extra strain on your heart.
You may feel moody or irritable, which also affects your driving. It’s similar to driving distracted and taking your mind off the road. Drivers should be well-rested and alert when they are behind the wheel. Your truck insurance carrier and other drivers on the road will thank you for taking care of yourself.
How can you detect and prevent drowsy driving?
Fortunately, there are many symptoms of drowsy driving. If you catch yourself doing any of these things, it could be that you are fatigued, even if you don’t feel tired or sleepy.
- You don’t remember the last few miles driven.
- You missed an exit.
- You drifted from your lane or drove over the rumble strips.
- Other drivers are honking at you for driving unpredictably.
- Blinking or yawning frequently.
- You can’t keep your eyes open, or you are having problems keeping your head upright.
Don’t rely on alertness tricks to stay awake
Some people believe that you can open the windows or turn on the air conditioner to help you stay awake when you get drowsy. These are not cures for fatigue. You may even have a false sense of security when utilizing tricks to make you be alert. It may help for a few minutes, but you won’t be able to maintain alertness.
Caffeine takes a few minutes to deliver an energy boost. If you are a regular coffee drinker, it will take more than a jolt of caffeine to make you more alert. You can’t rely on coffee or energy drinks to help you stay alert on the road with a huge vehicle.
Your best solution is to pull over and recharge with a nap. Find somewhere safe to rest. Change drivers if that is an option. Stay on top of your hours of service to avoid driving when you should be resting.
What are 3 things you can do to prevent fatigue while driving?
Drivers need to be aware of drowsy driving. You should be aware of how you are driving and know your limits. More importantly, you can make sure your routine allows for good sleep habits.
- Get enough sleep on a regular basis. Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep nightly. Stick to a sleep schedule.
- Avoid drinking or taking medications that make you drowsy. If you are taking medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how you may react.
- Talk to your doctor about sleep disorders if you routinely feel drowsy during the day. Treatment for sleep disorders can help you sleep more peacefully to wake up rested.
Eat healthy to prevent driving while drowsing
Driving a truck often leads to an odd schedule where you skip meals or eat at irregular times. This can impact your mood and interfere with sleep. Going to bed on an empty stomach or immediately after eating a heavy meal can prevent you from sleeping well. Bad nutritional habits can also interfere with sleep. Try to make healthier choices, such as eating whole grains, lean proteins and a lot of fruits and vegetables. An unhealthy lifestyle is one reason that many drivers fall asleep while driving.
Avoid driving when your body is drowsy
The FMSCA recommends that commercial drivers not drive when their body is naturally drowsy, between 12 am and 6 am each day. People are less alert at night, which can enhance drowsiness. If you routinely drive those hours, on your day off, stick to your sleep routine and make sure you are getting enough rest to avoid drowsiness when you get back to work.
About Western Truck Insurance Services
Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more!