What New Truck Drivers Need To Know About Fatigued Driving Regulations And Tips For Avoiding Drowsiness:
Chances are, that if you feel too sick, too tired, or too "impaired" to drive, you probably are.
If you start to feel like you are too ill, too tired, or just not capable of driving safely, pull it over, ASAP. The DOT says so.
For better or for worse, humans have a general internal day/night clock that controls their wake/sleep cycles (circadian rhythm) and dictates the daily pattern of alertness. In other words, most people will feel a lull in their energy and get sleepy between the hours of 12 a.m to 6 a.m., and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Research has shown that staying awake for 18 hours (in a row) can be compared to having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08, or legal intoxication.
No driver shall operate a commercial motor vehicle , and a motor carrier shall not require or permit a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle , while the driver's ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, illness, or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle. Drunk, tired, and otherwise impaired drivers are unsafe drivers, and tend to make things unnecessarily dangerous for the rest of us.
However, in a case of grave emergency where the hazard to occupants of the commercial motor vehicle or other users of the highway would be increased by compliance with this section, the driver may continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle to the nearest place at which that hazard is removed. If you can't safely stop the vehicle immediately, you are allowed to get to the nearest safe area. Hopefully, you can make it that far.
Tips For Truck Drivers To Avoid Fatigue:
Get Enough Good Sleep, And Take A Nap:
When possible, drive when your natural rhythm gives you the best chance to stay alert on the road, and sleep whenever you have the opportunity, according to schedule and hours-of-service. Again, for most people, the hours between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m., and 2-4 p.m. will be their highest points of fatigue.
Without adequate sleep, the lulls in a drivers natural rhythm may be more pronounced, leaving them even less alert and more susceptible to drowsy driving.
An FMCSA Driver Fatigue And Alertness Study determined that a driver's alertness was affected less by time-on-task, and more by time-of-day. Most people experience diminished states of alertness at night, especially after 12 a.m.
In safety studies cited by the FMCSA , a 15-20 minute nap is one quick and easy way to rejuvenate, reinvigorate, and prevent drowsiness. Naps longer than 20 minutes tend to result in some lingering grogginess.
Getting regular, quality sleep has also been shown to help a body stay healthy in general.
Eat Right and Keep A Healthy Diet:
When possible, eat at regular times, don't skip meals, avoid going to bed hungry or immediately after eating, as any of these things can cause fatigue and abnormal cravings or eating patterns.
Unhealthy eating and an unhealthy lifestyle, along with long working hours and sleeping problems, were shown to be the main causes of drivers falling asleep behind the wheel.
Avoid Sleep-Inducing Medication:
Many people turn to over-the-counter (OTC) cold medications when they are feeling sick or seeking allergy relief, but many of these are labeled with warnings against driving, or operating heavy machinery, after taking them.
Many of the OTC medications will tend to increase drowsiness and fatigue. It is important to thoroughly read labels and understand what you are taking before driving.
In some cases, OTC medicines could cause a driver to fail a drug test, or, in the very least, cause a false positive.
Avoid using alcohol before or while driving. Obviously.
Know The Signs Of Fatigue, And Avoid The "Tricks" For Staying Awake And Alert:
Classic indicators of fatigue and drowsiness include:
- Blurred vision, difficulty keeping eyes focused.
- Frequent blinking, heavy eyelids.
- Daydreaming or inability to focus on your task.
- Yawing frequently.
- Drifting in and out of your own lane.
- Difficulty keeping your head up, or "nodding".
Caffeine may give a driver an extra boost of energy, for a short period of time. Caffeine, however, can take up to 30 minutes after ingestion for the body to feel its effects.
Additionally, excessive amounts of caffeine can cause headaches, irritability, insomnia, and nervousness. Regular caffeine users may experience a much smaller effect from caffeine. When the effects of caffeine wear off, a driver may feel even more fatigued than ever, or experience the caffeine "crash".
Traditional "alertness tricks" like turning the radio up, opening the window, slapping your face, etc. may work for a moment or two, but are generally ineffective for maintaining alertness.
See More Driving Tips At: CMV Driving Tips - Driver Fatigue