Category: truck route

Managing Driver Fatigue

“Driver fatigue” is a common expression used by long-haul and commercial truckers. At some point during their career, every truck driver is bound to experience driver fatigue. Driver fatigue is caused by physical or mental exhaustion due to being on the road. Drivers who experience driver fatigue have a higher chance of getting into an accident because it can lead to slower reaction times and the decreased ability to assess situations quickly. Many factors can be the cause of driver fatigue including, lack of sleep and working long hours. It is a major issue and every driver needs to know how to stop it from happening. 

Every driver, including truck drivers, needs to be alert behind the wheel. Being alert not only keeps them safe, but everyone else around them, too. It is up to the driver to choose the best way for him or her to battle fatigue. Here are a few options to choose from.  

Get a Good Night’s Sleep Beforehand

To function at your best, it is recommended that adults get at least seven hours of sleep every night. This will help you stay alert and be as responsive as possible while driving. Getting an adequate amount of sleep will also help you to be mentally and physically ready for any potential incident. 

Keep a Healthy Diet

Maintaining a healthy diet can be difficult in general, but it can be even harder for long-haul and commercial drivers. That doesn’t mean you have to be discouraged because it can be done, but it will take determination. To maintain a healthy diet you should steer clear of fast food and choose healthier alternatives, such as packing and bringing food from home. Stay away from eating heavy meals because it takes a lot of energy to digest them. Eat lighter or smaller portions throughout the day and try snacks such as almonds and apples to keep you fuller longer. 

Take Breaks About Every 2 Hours

Taking breaks from the road every two hours will help you stay alert. It provides you with the chance to stretch, go for a walk, get some fresh air, and get a change of scenery. 

Take a Pre-Drive/Mid-Drive Nap

There will be times you might not get a good night’s sleep the night before you start your long drive. If that’s the case, try to make time to fit in a nap before you start your drive, even if it is only for an hour. If you do not have the time before, make sure you visit a rest stop to try to fit in a short nap. Trying to fight your fatigue can be dangerous. 

Limit Caffeine

Although caffeine can be helpful when consumed in moderation, it can lead to a “caffeine crash” causing you to be more tired than you were before. Therefore, enjoy a caffeinated beverage every so often because it can help, just do not overdo it. 

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can lead to drowsiness and headaches. Staying hydrated is very important because water has natural properties that will help you feel awake. 

Adjust Your Environment

When it comes to fighting fatigue, there are many ways you can do it within the cab or tractor. These include keeping the temperature cool, repositioning your seat, rolling down the windows for fresh air, playing mental games, and listening to podcasts instead of music. 

Make Use of New Technology

The following are five new anti-fatigue technologies that are being utilized in the trucking industry.

  • Fatigue meters-uses service logs to predict fatigue levels by approximating your sleep pattern on actual duty periods and uses the approximation to predict fatigue
  • Wearables-includes wristwatches, eyeglasses, and other Fitbit-like devices
  • Anti-fatigue headwear-the use of smart hats with sensors on the forehead to identify head movement and measures brain waves for signs of fatigue. This information is then sent to a unit in the cab wirelessly
  • Smartphone tests-uses psychomotor vigilance task (PVT) which measures the cognitive alertness of truck drivers
  • Facial mapping-systems take images of the driver’s face to locate symptoms of fatigue including head nodding, gazing, drooping eyelids, yawning, and head orientation. 

Driver fatigue is not a matter that should be taken lightly. It is a significant issue and every truck driver should be aware of the ways to fight it. Find a way that works best for you and try something new. You might be surprised at what works and what doesn’t. Make it a priority to combat driver fatigue not only for your safety, but for everyone else out on the road. 

Tornado Safety While on the Road

TO-MAY-TO, TO-MAH-TO, tornado! The word for tornado likely comes from two Spanish words, one meaning ‘to thunder’ and the other ‘to turn.’ That seems like an accurate description for the whirling storm clouds. Tornadoes are quite common in the Central United States. There is even a specific season and an aptly named high tornado risk zone known as Tornado Alley that stretches from Southern Nebraska to Northern Texas. As a cross country or regional driver in the central US, you will likely face a tornado situation in your career as a driver. So, how do you stay safe during tornado weather?

Tornado Warning!

The first thing you should always be on the lookout for is the weather forecast when you’re driving. While meteorologists cannot always predict a tornado, they know the conditions that can create one and can give advance warning of where one may form. In addition to this, watching the sky while you drive especially when there seems to be a sudden darkening, or the winds are changing rather rapidly will help you determine whether a tornado is starting to form and how far away you are from it. Seeing a tornado near your truck is likely one of the scariest things you will ever face as a driver, but there are ways to increase your chances of survival and possibly even save your truck.

What Should You Do?

The priority in a tornado situation is saving yourself- if you are faced with a tornado, Trucks can be repaired and goods can be replaced, but you’ve only got one life. There are two courses of action when it comes to addressing a tornadic situation. These depend on whether you are inside your truck or outside of it (at a truck stop, delivery point, pick-up location, fueling up, etc.). 

If you are driving, the best thing to do is look for a place below ground level to pull your truck into. DO NOT pull under a bridge or overpass as the winds flowing through these areas are more treacherous than the ones in the open. The best place to take your truck is into a culvert or into a ditch. Make sure that your truck is not near any structures or trees, as these may collapse and fall on your vehicle. After your truck is parked, remain in the driver’s seat, buckle your seatbelt, and cover your head with your arms and a jacket or blanket to aid in protecting you from debris or broken glass. If you cannot get your truck into a low place, get yourself into a ditch or culvert far from structures or vehicles, and cover your neck and head with your arms and a jacket or blanket.

If you are stopped, try to get to the nearest building and shelter in the innermost room. If this is not possible and you have enough time, drive your truck into a low place. If you can’t get into a building or don’t have time to drive, run to the nearest ditch and cover your head and neck with your arms and a jacket or blanket.

If you are driving and cannot find a low place, DO NOT keep driving towards the tornado. Turn away from it and locate the nearest possible low place that is far from structures. 

Staying Safe

Tornadoes are usually sudden, but it is possible to stay safe. Following the above guidelines gives you the best chance at surviving the storm. If you know that you are traveling through tornado country at peak tornado season (May-June), it is a good idea to pack a kit of supplies. This kit should include extra food, water, a flashlight, and a battery powered radio. As you are driving, check the weather on the radio, and take shelter when warnings are announced. Hopefully you will never face a tornado, but it always pays to be alert and prepared during any severe weather condition. Stay safe out there!

The Value of Planning Your Route Carefully

A useful anecdote that I often repeat to myself is “careful planning and goal setting are the keys to a happy and healthy life.” This is especially true when working and forming healthy lifestyles. In addition to making life easier, planning will also help you remain punctual and will give you some flexibility because you know the time that you need to be at a pickup or drop off along the route. 

Planning Ahead

It may not be incredibly far in advance of a trip that you find out your route but taking even 15 minutes to delineate when you should be where and when you should take a break can save you a lot of time in the future. Adding stops into your GPS (or on your map if you’re more old-fashioned) can help you make sure you take adequate break time and recharge more efficiently. With a schedule, you can get more done and save time while you’re at it!

How do you build a plan even in a time crunch? The best way to do this is look at a map of your route and the specific drop-off and pick up times between each part of your journey, if there is a difference in the time it takes between transit and your next point of cargo transfer, you can use this extra time to take a break either for activity, rest, or a bite to eat. 

If you are a local driver, you will likely have more stops to plan around, so familiarize yourself with the area and locate nearby parks, quick restaurants, or greenways so you can get in some quick activity and hopefully healthy food. If you are a long-haul driver, planning is even more crucial because you will likely be in unfamiliar territory. Look at your route and plan around avoiding high-theft locations, and finding safe spots to rest, eat, and take breaks. For each type of driver, it is a good idea to write down what time you should be where and follow this to the best of your ability. You can even use your phone to write down times or set reminders!

Staying Healthy

Creating a schedule will help you to stay healthy because it allows you to plan out restaurants in advance, so that you can avoid the high fat, sodium, and sugar meals that are so tempting on the road. Finding restaurants that offer healthier meals can be a life and health saver as you continue taking on new cargo. Planning well is a part of forming healthier habits for the road, and your body will surely thank you for this.

In addition to eating healthily, you can also plan for exercise and stretch breaks. Taking a walk in between long hours of driving can help you to stay fresh and fit. Remembering to stretch can also be beneficial because it will help you stay flexible and avoid stiffness and pain as the hours get long between pickups and drop offs. 

Final Thoughts

Planning ahead can be an actual lifesaver, and less drastically can greatly improve your health and timeliness in transporting cargo! Writing down details and a schedule for your route and setting reminders with your phone can be a great way to make your route happier, healthier, and more on-time! There are plenty of online resources to help with this, so do some research and create a custom way of planning that suits your needs.