Whether you’ve driven over the road or locally, you’ve surely at one point or another felt the allure of sleep wash over us after a long day of work. The heavy feeling of our eyes slowly closing is a feeling that we feel we must fight, especially during the drive and while many of us think we can keep our minds awake and alert, this is not true. Sleep is a powerful biological need, one that can overtake even the most seasoned driver. While some may think the old tricks of rolling down the windows and turning up the radio volume can work, they don’t.
It’s not always easy to tell when you’re too tired to drive. Here are some signs that it’s time to pull over:
• Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy feeling eyelids
• Daydreaming; wandering/random/disconnected thoughts
• Trouble remembering the last few miles driven; missing exits or traffic signs
• Yawning repeatedly
• Trouble keeping your head up or your head keeps slowly falling
• Drifting out of your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
• Feeling restless and irritable
Even before a person falls asleep while driving, difficulty paying attention and slowed reaction times make driving very dangerous when drowsy, even more so considering you are operating a semi-truck and trailer. Truck driving is a complex activity that involves many small but important decisions that need to be made within seconds and always with complete accuracy and efficiency. Even if you feel “awake”, your brain is not functioning optimally to handle these decisions safely.
There are methods you can take to ensure that your mind and body are rested before you begin that drive. The best way to make sure you are in optimal driving shape is to plan and get 7-8 hours of sleep before your drive. If this is out of the questions there are other, smaller methods that can ensure that you drive safely and are alert including:
• A pre-drive nap: taking a short nap before a drive can help make up for a short night’s sleep.
• A mid-drive nap: if you find yourself drowsy while driving, pull over to take a short nap of 20 minutes. Make sure you are in a safe location and remember you’ll be groggy for 15 minutes or so after waking up before resuming your journey.
• Avoiding the consumption of alcohol prior to your trip as even a small amount can have a negative effect on your body.
• Drink caffeine: caffeine improves alertness, although be aware that the effects of caffeine will wear off after several hours.
At Jagad Trucking, we believe in safe drivers. This is why we pride ourselves on staying local and making sure drivers come home every night. If you would like to know more, please call us at (219) 393-3979 or visit our website.