How Commercial Drivers Can Combat Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving happens when the motorist is too tired or sleepy to remain focused and alert. Estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal that this problem in 2013 caused 72,000 crashes and 800 fatalities.

Drowsy driving affects all drivers, including commercial truckers. One of the reasons behind this problem is that some trucking companies force their truckers to drive for hours unceasingly to meet deadlines. But this is illegal. Washington state law, for instance, requires firms to allow employees to take a 10-minute paid rest break for every four hours worked. Truckers in this state, with help from Washington trucking lawyers, may file a lawsuit if their company doesn’t allow them to take this break.

Commercial drivers who are constantly on the road should familiarize themselves with drowsy driving and learn how to mitigate the effects of this condition. If you’re a trucker having trouble with drowsy driving, follow these suggestions to stay safe behind the wheel:

Know the Symptoms of Drowsy Driving

Minimizing the occurrence of this condition begins with recognizing the red flags. You’ll know you’re too tired to drive if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Lapses in Memory – You need to pull over if you’re unable to recall what you did during the last couple of miles and exits.
  • Yawning – Continually doing this to keep your eyes open is a strong indicator you’re fatigued.
  • Hazardous Driving Maneuvers – You may be dozing off if you’re performing unsafe actions on the road, such as straying from your lane or tailgating frequently.

Avoid Taking Sleeping Pills

commercial drivers

Some drivers take sleeping pills to help them get the sleep they need. These sedative hypnotics, unfortunately, may do more harm than good. Sleeping pills could leave you with a huge amount of sleep inertia, the transitional state between wake and sleep. This physiological state may disorient you and lower your cognitive performance.

Sleeping pills also come with many side effects, including memory loss, dry mouth, dizziness, itching, and unusual dreams. Rather than reach for these over-the-counter medications, consider natural sleep aids, such as placing plants near your rest area. A study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a peer-reviewed medical journal found that lavender helps improve sleep quality.

Take a Short Nap

Instead of forcing yourself to stay awake and drive, pull over and take a quick nap. Getting a short rest is better than ending up in a vehicular crash or collision. The ideal nap time should be about 10 to 20 minutes because extended naps may result in sleep inertia.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Eating regularly and including healthy food in your diet will allow you to achieve quality sleep. If you’re on the road, avoid getting meals from fast food chains and gas stations. Instead, pack lunch and munch on healthy fruits and vegetables. Additionally, avoid greasy and heavy meals before bedtime, as this can prevent you from obtaining a good night’s rest.

Fatigue will always be a challenge for commercial drivers, especially for those who are on the road for days. By taking note of these suggestions, you minimize the unwanted effects of drowsy driving and keep the road safe for everyone.