Drowsiness and driving a commercial motor vehicle, especially a big rig, do not go well together. However, truckers in Texas and across the U.S. have the ability to avoid drowsiness behind the wheel. The following six tips can help prevent major fatigue.
The first step is to ensure adequate sleep. A second tip is connected to this — maintain a healthy, regular diet. Going to bed immediately after a heavy meal or, conversely, with an empty stomach will not make one well-rested. One can eat a light snack before bed to achieve better sleep. Once back on the road, drivers should try not to work during the “lulls” in the day. For example, the body is naturally more tired between midnight and 6 a.m.
Third of all, truck drivers should avoid taking drowsiness-inducing medications. Fourth, they should take a nap when they feel the onset of fatigue. It’s even better to take a nap as a preventative measure. Naps should be at least 10 minutes long, but 45 minutes is ideal.
The last two tips are basic: Know the symptoms of drowsiness, and do not try to increase alertness through ineffective tricks. The symptoms include heavy eyelids, blurred vision, lapses in memory and constant yawning. Rolling down the windows and playing the radio loud are two examples of so-called alertness tricks.
In the FMCSA’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study, 13% of truckers were found to be drowsy at the time of their truck collisions. The percentage may be higher since drowsiness is often difficult to prove. This is an important fact for someone who has been injured by a drowsy trucker because it can complicate the process of filing a claim and seeking a settlement. With a lawyer working on their behalf, though, a victim may have less to fear.