How To Fight Fatigue For A New Driver?

Topic 21108 | Page 1

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Mike B.'s Comment
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First off, I have not yet obtained my class A or even decided 100% if a career in trucking is right for me. However, one of my biggest fears at this point is falling asleep at the wheel. That thought just scares the living hell of out me!. I know some here have mentioned that you learn how to deal with fatigue over time, but in the meantime, how do you continuously drive 600-700 miles day after day after day, and not fall asleep?

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Hey Mike. Here's an article I wrote about how to stay awake behind the wheel:

12 Tips To Help Drivers Stay Awake Longer

Here's a forum conversation about it also:

How The Heck Do You Stay Awake?

Let me say this. You will not have the endurance early on in your career that you will develop after some time on the road. For one, you're simply not used to it. You'll adapt to it as you go.

The second reason is because early on in your career you're stressed out, overwhelmed, and hyper-focused on a million little details all the time. It's simply exhausting. As you get more experience out there you'll learn to relax and a lot of the things you had to focus on in the beginning become second nature after a while. So you won't be wearing yourself out like you did in the beginning.

Obviously the most important thing is to play it safe. The two best tips I have are:

1) Take short breaks. Even a five minute stop in a rest area or truck stop to walk inside and get a drink makes a huge difference.

2) Don't get too exhausted before resting. If you have to drive 10 hours but you're tired after 8 hours it's best to stop a little early and get your sleep and finish the rest up in the morning. If you drive to the point of exhaustion you really don't recover fully even with a good night's sleep and that will drag you down the next day. So stop a little sooner and you'll recover better.

OtrEscapeArtist's Comment
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Conditioning. Its like a distance runner. One does not run a marathon in first phase of exercise. You will slowly build tolerance, create routines, become more comfortable in your abilities to concentrate for extended periods and learn your mind and body's responses to fatigue...

Gladhand's Comment
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When you first start you'll feel sleepy even after a good night of sleep. The stress levels from worrying about a myriad of things to the driving will make you tired.

Brett provided plenty of good content already. My only 2 cents is to use common sense, if your too tired then your too tired. The learning curve is steep, but if you stick it out, it will get better.

Big Scott (CFI's biggest 's Comment
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I use 5 hour energy shots. However, if I feel sleepy, I will stop and nap. For me, I have always been able to do a 15 to 30 minute nap to recharge. There are also numerous ways to manage your clock. There are people who make pleanty of driving a few hundred miles and resting. They master the 8-2 split. The main thing take your time, be safe and rest as needed. Companies know that beginners need to build their endurance. It comes quicker for some than others.

Mike B.'s Comment
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Thanks for the great advice. The common theme here seems to be "common sense" be safe and rest when you are tired.

G-Town's Comment
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Hydration and rest, yes, 100%. It's part of being a professional driver, paramount to safe and efficient performance.

So all the electronic gizmos, avoid them during your 10 hour break. Rest. Safe them for your 34 or home time.

Good luck.

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