According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), road fatigue was responsible for 846 fatalities on U.S. roads in 2014. Additionally, there are tens of thousands of non-fatal accidents resulting from drowsy drivers each year. In fact, data shows that a staggering one in every 25 drivers over the age of 18 has fallen asleep at the wheel in the past 30 days.
Unfortunately, long-haul truckers are especially prone to the risks of drowsy driving. Although truckers know the dangers associated with road fatigue, a busy schedule and financial pressures often lead to driving under compromised and hazardous conditions. So as a driver, what can you do about it?
- Get Sufficient Sleep:
Most people need between seven and eight hours of sleep to feel fully rested and alert. Missing as little as one and a half hours of sleep from your regular sleep schedule can have a major impact on your alertness and reaction time. If you go without sleep long enough, you may experience micro-sleep episodes while driving, which often leads to accidents.
- Get Plenty of Exercise:
Rather than making you feel sleepy, regular exercise will make you feel more alert and increase your energy levels. A few minutes of jumping jacks or a dozen or so vigorous pushups are usually enough to get the blood pumping and send oxygen to the brain.
- Avoid Caffeine:
Although many people rely on coffee and other caffeinated drinks to get them through long drives, it is not the best option. While coffee can help people stay awake, drinking too much often significantly reduces a person’s attention span, decision-making abilities, and reaction time. Overindulging in caffeine on a long-term basis may also lead to serious medical issues.
- Stay Engaged:
One of the best ways to fight off fatigue is to actively engage your mind. Many people find that listening to music or, better yet, an audiobook is a wonderful way to stay more alert. Drive time is a great opportunity to get involved in a story, listen to interesting podcasts, or catch up on news.
- Know Your Body:
Everyone is different. Try to be aware of the signs your body gives you when it’s time to get some shut-eye. More importantly, respect your body when it tells you it needs rest. Pulling off the road for a quick nap is always a better option than falling asleep behind the wheel. Although it can be hard to put your well-being ahead of your responsibilities, your life is on the line.
Use these five tips to make sure you never drive tired and reduce your risk of having a deadly accident.