Fatigued driving

Trucker feeling sleepy and tired after long ride. Overworked people at job.
Trucker feeling sleepy and tired after long ride. Overworked people at job.

We have all experienced it. Fatigued while driving, or as it’s often referred to, “Snooze Control”. Driving while tired is very dangerous, to say the least. Knowing what to watch for, and what can be done to reduce the risks can help you avoid the usually conclusions. 

First and foremost, get plenty of sleep before starting your shift. If at all possible, try to fall asleep at about the same time every night, and wake up at about the same time every morning. Keeping your body clock in sync with the world around you will help you avoid fatigue. 

Avoid the temptations of playing on your phone, tablet or computer before going to bed. The effects of the LCD screen can hamper your sleep. Try to avoid caffeinated & sugary beverages for 2 hours before going to sleep. They will only energize you, making getting to sleep hard, and they can prevent you from entering deep REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which is where you get the best rest.  

To combat fatigue when you’re driving, keep the cab of the truck cool, crack the window for some fresh air,  and use the heater controls to keep the air circulating. If you can, park and walk around the truck to break up the monotony. Playing music you like will help get your mind active, and stave off fatigue, as will some simple mind games you can play by yourself, like checking out the licence plates of other vehicles, and finding all the letters and numbers in sequential order.  Another good way to keep your mind active is to start a conversation with another driver on the CB. 

Try to avoid driving at times when you are most drowsy. Everyone’s circadian rhythm is different, but for most people, they are most susceptible to fatigue between the hours of 2 and 4 am, and 2 and 4 pm.  

Caffeinated beverages can help you stay alert while driving, but stay away from energy drinks. They contain far too much sugar, which can lead to other health issues down the road. Avoid overeating, as it will tire you out. 

If you feel the need, pull over for a 15 or 20 minute nap. Do NOT nap over the steering wheel!  Climb into the bunk for your nap. More than a few drivers have died of a heart attack from waking up from a nap over the steering wheel, thought they had fallen asleep at the wheel, and died on the spot.

Don Taylor has been a professional driver since March 1985.  In 1994 he made the jump to driving tractor trailers, and has accumulated over 3.5 million miles, including over 4 years of driving turnpike doubles in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.  He is currently hauling flat decks across North America.