If you’ve ever felt your eyelids getting heavy and had a hard time focusing while driving, you may have experienced driver fatigue. Driver fatigue is a major danger, and it can put your life and other people’s lives at risk.
Approximately 1 out of every 25 adults have reported that they’ve fallen asleep at the wheel during the past month, indicating drowsy driving occurs at an alarming frequency. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving may have caused as many as 72,000 crashes and 800 deaths during 2013 alone.
If you experience driver fatigue, you’re far from the only one, but it’s important to get the issue under control for your own safety and for your career.
Staying Awake Behind the Wheel
There are many ways that you can prevent drowsy driving, and it’s important to take an active role in this safety issue, especially when you’re spending long hours on the road because of your job. Start by making sure that you get a good night’s sleep and that you listen to your body during a trip, stopping for breaks when you feel tired.
If you know you’re headed out on a long-distance trip, schedule in breaks at least every two hours to help keep yourself aware and focused. Book a hotel or motel room for an overnight trip that will allow you to get out of the truck and truly relax.
You might be tempted to drink lots of caffeine during a long drive, but its effects are short-lived. To maximize its results, drink water during most of your drive, only turning to caffeine when you’re feeling tired and need a boost. Try to eat healthy snacks instead of sugary ones, which will boost your blood sugar and then leave you feeling worn out as your blood sugar levels fall again. Rolling down the windows or turning the air conditioner on can also help to keep you awake.
If you’re frequently experiencing drowsy driving symptoms, talk to your doctor about any medications that you’re on. Some medications can cause fatigue and you may need a dosage adjustment or to try a new medication entirely if you’re feeling tired while driving.
Creating a Safer Driving Experience
Self-driving vehicles could help to reduce the issue of driver fatigue. Driverless semi-trucks could potentially be used for long-haul trucking, and rather than doing the driving, drivers would instead serve as “overseers” who make sure that the technology functions correctly.
The drivers would ride along for each haul, able to step in in case something did go wrong. But, with the ability to take more of a passive role during the trip, drivers would be less likely to experience the fatigue that comes with hours of staying alert and focused behind the wheel.
While self-driving vehicles still may be a ways off, you can advocate for changes that are easier to make, sooner. Many cities, like St. Petersburg, are evaluating and changing their infrastructure. With improved infrastructure, like stoplights timed to help reduce gridlock, driving can become easier and safer, meaning you may spend less time behind the wheel when navigating these areas. Be sure to stay aware of and advocate for these changes which could improve your working conditions and safety.
Additional Ways to Prevent Accidents
There are many other ways that you can help to reduce your chances of getting into an accident. First, start by equipping yourself with a quality vehicle. If you buy the vehicle you use for work, understand how to assess a used vehicle for safety, or take it to a mechanic to be evaluated before buying it. Putting some extra effort into researching and assessing a vehicle can help to prevent you from buying a lemon, and will also ensure that the vehicle is safe to drive.
With use, any vehicle is going to need to be repaired at some point. When you’re familiar with the most common body shop repairs, you can better understand what might happen to your vehicle and how to avoid these issues. Painting is a common issue, but you can protect your paint by washing and waxing your vehicle regularly, and by storing it in a garage.
Other issues, like window repair and frame repair, often arise after an accident. It’s important to check with your car insurance provider to make sure you understand what is and what isn’t covered under your policy coverage. You may want to increase that coverage to avoid having to pay for costly repairs if you’re ever at fault in an accident.
Finally, make sure that you’re familiar with traffic laws, especially when you’re traveling from state to state or country to country for work. Understanding laws fully will help you to safely navigate the streets and may help to prevent an accident. If you’re ever feeling tired behind the wheel, find a safe space to pull over. Your life and career could depend on it.