Truck driving can be an exhausting, and sometimes monotonous, task. This is especially true for long-haul truckers driving through hundreds of miles of country or highway roads that may never seem to end. In order to ensure everyone’s safety, it is vital for drivers to maintain full awareness throughout their route.
Drivers are often required to work 10-12 hour shifts in order to make their deliveries on time. Many trucking companies have a mandatory rule that their drivers get at least 10 hours of sleep between shifts. Aside from getting proper rest, there are a couple of tricks drivers can use to stay alert and safe on the road.
1. Keep A Consistent Sleep Schedule
As a truck driver, it’s not only important to get the right amount of sleep but you also must maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Newer drivers may attempt to drive longer distances and only pull over to rest for shorter periods of time instead of getting a full night’s rest. This can be a very dangerous decision to make as you will never get to fully rest and, as a result, are putting other drivers on the road at risk.
The best way to stay alert as a truck driver is to adopt a consistent sleep schedule and stick with it. Naps are great if you need a short break but they do not replace quality, uninterrupted sleep at night.
2. Eat Lightly & More Frequently
We all know how tiring eating a large meal can make you. It may seem difficult to spread your meals out as you don’t want to make too many stops along the way. It may sound hard to maintain this diet but it can make all the difference in the world.
With proper planning, you can make the change from 2-3 larger meals to 4-5 smaller meals throughout the day. Adopting a more frequent eating schedule will not only help you stay alert, but it will also help you lose weight by boosting your metabolism!
3. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is important for many reasons but it also plays a role in keeping us alert and awake. However, you can only stay hydrated if you’re drinking water. Avoid other drinks such as sodas or juices as the extra sugars can dehydrate you or even worse, cause a sugar crash after consumption. Drinking more water will also help keep extra pounds off since you’ll be drinking less of your daily calories.
4. Exercise Regularly
You may not think you have time for exercise since time is of the essence in the trucking industry. This is simply not true! Even if it’s just a quick jog around the truck stop, getting in at least 10-15 minutes a day of regular exercise will help keep you alert on the road.
Getting 30-45 minutes of exercise a day is ideal, however, what matters most is that you’re moving and getting your heart-rate up. Exercise will give you a rush as the brain releases endorphins and chemicals that produce more energy.
5. Use Caffeine Sparingly
Sure, a 5-hour energy or Monster energy drink will boost your level of “alertness” quite quickly. However, the crash that comes a few hours later can be problematic, especially if you’re still on the road when it hits.
Limit your reliance on caffeine as it can also impair your consistent sleep schedule. If you need a small pick-me-up, stick to normal coffee. Choosing coffee will give you the caffeine you need without as much of a crash later on.
6. Turn the Volume Up
Listening to audiobooks, podcasts, or music is a great way to pass the time while you drive. Listening to something while you drive can help you avoid boredom and in turn, help you stay awake longer! Entertainment options like these can serve as a great distraction when you need it most. Turn the volume up and enjoy the ride!
7. Take a Break When You Need It
When all else fails, just take a break. Trust your gut if you are ever in doubt about your ability to stay awake. We encourage you to pull over and get some rest when you know you need it. You must remember that you are responsible for the safety of yourself and other drivers on the road. Sometimes the safest option is to stop and rest until you feel confident that you can drive safely. It’s not worth anyone’s life, including your own, just to get somewhere “on time”.
When it comes to staying awake longer as a truck driver, it’s all about listening to your body and taking care of yourself. Over time you will find what works best for you and be able to get into a healthy routine. Researching ways to stay alert on the road is certainly a great place to start and shows you’re a responsible driver.
Looking to hit refresh on your career in trucking? DriveCo CDL Learning Center offers a CDL Refresher Course that may be exactly what you need! Our CDL Refresher Course can be completely customized to fit your needs. Contact us today to learn more!