Fatigued driving is a major risk for commercial truckers. Being on the road long hours, rushing to make tight deadlines, and lack of sleep can all combine to create dangerous conditions on the road.
Much like driving under the influence, driving while drowsy diminishes response time, impairs judgement, and increases the risk you will be involved in a major accident with a big rig or semi truck. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the different ways truck drivers can reduce their risk of drowsy driving.
Recognize the signs of tiredness
Fatigued driving is accompanied by some very clear signs of sleepiness. These include lane drifting, tunnel vision, nodding off, being unable to keep eyes open, slow reaction times, and many other signs. Truck drivers may also find themselves forgetting sections of the drive, which indicates that their mind is not on the road. Operating a commercial truck requires a great deal of attention and skill, so truck drivers must be fully alert and aware at all times.
Get checked for any health issues
Most adults require at least seven hours of sleep per night to feel rested come morning. If a person is getting ample and sleep and still feels fatigued during the day, the problem might be an underlying medical issue. While truckers undergo physical exams when receiving or renewing a commercial driver’s license, they should also seek out a doctor’s opinion on excessive sleepiness.
Stop and rest when necessary
When fatigue does occur, truck drivers must immediately stop and rest. Taking a 20-minute nap is beneficial for diminishing sleepiness. Stopping for a meal is also beneficial, as nutritious food can help boost energy levels. Drivers are also encouraged to contact their supervisors when fatigue is an issue, as they can provide instructions on how to proceed. For example, it may be possible for another trucker to accompany the fatigued driver to take over driving responsibilities when needed.