Many commercial drivers experience drowsiness or fatigue while on the road, but studies show that being awake for over 18 hours is the equivalent to being legally drunk. Fatigued drivers exhibit many of the same dangerous behaviors as a driver impaired by drugs or alcohol, such as weaving, drifting off the roadway or into opposing lanes, erratic braking, excessive speed changes, tailgating and more.
Here are some tips to prevent driver fatigue:
Know the signs
It’s important to know the signs that it’s time to stop and take a rest:
- Difficulty focusing, heavy eyelids or frequent blinking
- Daydreaming or disconnected thoughts
- Drifting or swerving from your lane
- Missing exits or difficulty remembering the last traffic signs or stop lights
Get plenty of rest before a long journey
Before you start a long stretch of driving, get at least seven hours of sleep. If you’re feeling tired, don’t drive long distances. Plan your trip during the times of day that you are normally alert.
Avoid heavy meals, especially at midday
Eating a heavy meal can make you feel sluggish and sleepy, so be sure to stick to light eating while on the road. Snacks like fruit, nuts, trail mix, hard boiled eggs and beef/turkey jerky can help keep you feeling energized.
Take proper breaks
For every two hours spent driving, drivers should take a 15-minute break. Get out, stretch and move your legs. If it is safe, take a 15 to 20-minute power nap – but no longer than 20 minutes. A longer nap could leave you feeling even more sleepy.
Driving while fatigued can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Follow these tips to prevent fatigue and keep all drivers safe on the road.Dr