Fatigue Management  for Truck Drivers

Truck photo

Feeling fatigued is a common condition that affects all humans. But what is fatigue? To understand fatigue means to be able to combat it. Fatigue is a level of exhaustion and tiredness that stems from labor, exertion and high levels of stress.  

These three conditions are well-known to truck drivers and carriers alike. The nature of a carrier’s job is filled with stress, exertion and labor, which combined make the perfect cocktail for driver fatigue and increases the probabilities of fatal accidents on the road. Due to the high level of drivers reporting feeling fatigued while on the job, companies have spent endless resources on fatigue management tools that are well-intentioned but their efficacy is still up for debate.

This article is designed for carriers and drivers alike, these are tools you can choose to implement on your own.  

What is driver fatigue? – It’s an extreme sense of tiredness, weariness and exhaustion that emerges while driving for long periods of time. Driver fatigue can have very negative consequences for the driver and other people on the road.  

The principal causes of driver fatigue are lack of quality sleep, driving when you normally sleep, and working/driving for too long. Other elements that contribute to driver fatigue are highway boredom, and the weather.   

The carrier’s job makes it almost impossible to keep a consistent sleep schedule, and sometimes it’s necessary to drive long hours at night when you would normally be sleeping. Here are some signs that you’re experiencing driving fatigue, so you can identify them and stop and rest when you need it.  

Signs of driving fatigue:

  • Constant yawning 
  • Blinking more than usual 
  • Missing an exit or road sign 
  • Nodding off 
  • Drifting off your lane 
  • Tunnel vision and microsleeps 
  • Reacting slowly, braking too late.  

How to prevent it:

  • Get enough sleep. This varies for everyone but in general, having at least 7 hours of quality sleep is necessary to feel rested the next day.  
  • Keep a healthy diet – certain foods can make you more sleepy while driving as opposed to giving you energy to stay alert.  
  • View sunlight within 30 minutes of waking up, this will wake up your whole body and let your brain know it’s time to be awake.  
  • Avoid medication that induces sleep or drowsiness.  

Some of the common suggestions to prevent driver fatigue are easier said than done. Here are some things you can do while you’re on the road to manage the symptoms of driver fatigue and avoid suffering from any of the dangerous consequences.  

Tips for drivers on the road:  

  • Stop and take a 12-20 minute nap if you’re feeling any of the signs of driving fatigue.  
  • Stop for a 15 minute break every two hours where you walk around, stretch the legs, or simply disconnect from driving for a few minutes to reset.  
  • Avoid energy drinks that give you a burst of energy but leave you depleted afterwards.  
  • If you can, do most of your driving during the day, and avoid driving between 12am and 6am.  
  • Take a break between 2-4pm. During this time the body is usually drowsy as well.  

These are some of the things that can help deal with fatigue when it comes up on the road. There are a number of resources available, especially for carriers and truck drivers, to combat driving fatigue.  

We are committed to bring you useful information that you can apply to improve your quality of life while on the road.