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How Do Truck Drivers Stay Awake

Truck drivers put in a lot of long hours. Staying awake can be challenging at times. Sometimes their routes include an overnight run. Night truck driving makes it a bit more challenging to stay awake while behind the wheel. For your safety and that of others on the roadway, you must take precautions to avoid falling asleep behind the wheel.

What truckers do to stay awake

A night truck driver must focus on the road without letting it lull him to sleep. One of the dangers of night driving truck routes is becoming a bit hypnotized by the low lights and the miles of roadway coming at you through the front windshield. Truckers who frequently handle overnight hauls know how easy it is to drift off to sleep without the usual noise and distractions that come with daytime trucking.

Not all tips for truck driving at night involve actions you can take while driving. There are some things you can do before you get behind the wheel to make sure you are ready for the long night ahead.

  • Get plenty of rest. Sleeping at least 7 hours before you get behind the wheel is critical. If you have difficulty sleeping, you should reduce your caffeine intake before bed and consider taking a melatonin supplement.
  • Eat well and take your vitamins. Good nutrition is an important part of overall health. If you are lacking in vitamin B-12 or have low iron levels, it can make you prone to drowsiness.
  • Avoid medications that cause drowsiness. Antihistamines and some prescription medications can make you sleepy.

Tips for truck driving at night for long-haul drivers

Trucking at night is a challenge for several reasons. For long-haul truckers, their rides can get long and boring in a hurry.

Using breaks to get moving can help a long-haul trucker stay awake while truck driving at night. Boosting your heart rate improves blood flow to the brain. There is no need to get super sweaty. You only need to raise your heart rate to make it work. Here are some suggestions for ways you can quickly raise your heart rate, helping you stay awake:

  • Do jumping jacks or jump rope until you feel out of breath. For most people, it takes 50 to 100.
  • Do knee raises for 2 minutes, alternating your knees.
  • Do shoulder rolls with a circular motion. It will boost heart rate and loosen tension in your neck and upper back.

Tricks to stay awake while driving

If you cannot avoid driving at night, here are some additional night-time truck driving tips and tricks to help you stay awake while driving.

  • Crank up the volume. While you do not want it to be so loud it contributes to an accident, turning on some music that energizes you and cranking it up can help keep you from drifting off.
  • Open the window. Alternatively, you can boost the AC and make it cold enough to keep you a bit uncomfortable. Most people cannot fall asleep when they are chilly.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration leads to sleepiness. Even if you must take more breaks, it is worth it to stay hydrated. Avoid caffeinated beverages. They make dehydration worse.

Lastly, if you find you truly cannot keep your eyes open, it is better to be safe than sorry. The National Safety Council revealed that 20 percent of drivers they surveyed admitted to falling asleep at the wheel. Some of those drivers include big rig operators. In a separate report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that drowsy driving causes around 100,000 accidents nationwide each year.

Driving drowsy can cause serious injuries and even death to you or other drivers on the roadway. You risk losing your commercial driver’s license and being sued by injured parties. Pull over, notify dispatch, and get some rest.