Federal regulations require drivers to take mandatory rest breaks after covering a certain number of miles. They are only allowed to work a certain number of hours in a given week, as well. These regulations were put in place to prevent accidents that might occur as a result of driving without sufficient rest. As such, they directly address the topic of drowsy driving.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, drowsy driving results in upwards of 328,000 accidents annually. Those accidents produce 6,400 deaths and 109,000 injuries. They cost Americans upwards of $109 billion. Those are some pretty impressive numbers when you step back and look at them honestly.
Drowsy driving is a form of impairment that should not be ignored. It is just as dangerous as doing things such as texting or eating while behind the wheel. Unfortunately, too many drivers do not take being drowsy seriously. They think they just need a cup of coffee or an energy drink to get where they’re going safely.
Truckers Should Be Especially Aware
Truck drivers should be especially aware of how dangerous drowsy driving is. The size and weight of their vehicles makes them more likely to inflict severe injury or death on other drivers in the event of a crash, so every bit of extra care taken to prevent accidents is vital.
At C.R. England, they take drowsy driving seriously. Here are a few tips they have offered to help truck drivers avoid drowsy driving:
Get Plenty of Rest
It goes without saying that the most important factor in avoiding drowsy driving is getting enough rest. For the trucker, rest is more than just getting out of the driver’s seat. It also means sleep. Truck drivers should do all they can to establish a daily routine that makes restful sleep easier to come by.
Take More Rest Breaks
In addition to the time spent eating, sleeping and socializing, drivers should seriously consider regular rest breaks throughout the day. Just stopping every couple of hours and getting out of the truck for 15 minutes does wonders. Get out, walk around, and take in some fresh air. Doing so is a good way to quickly recharge the batteries.
Learn to Recognize Drowsiness
Many drowsy drivers do not realize what is happening until they are already in a dangerous situation. Truck drivers can avoid such situations by learning to recognize the early warning signs of drowsiness. Those signs include things like yawning, lane drifting, wandering thoughts, and not being able to remember the last few miles driven.
Change the Environment
The old CB radio was a great tool for avoiding drowsiness because it kept drivers engaged in running conversations. In the era of the cell phone, CB radios are used less frequently than ever before. Drivers can make up for it by constantly changing their environment. Listen to the radio for a while, then shut it off and open the window for a while. Little changes like these make it easier to stay alert.
Get an Earlier Start
Though there are exceptions to the rule, the average person’s circadian rhythms make them most alert during the morning hours. Drivers can avoid drowsiness by starting earlier in the day (within reason, of course) so that they are done by mid-to-late afternoon. More miles will be covered while drivers are fresh and fewer when the body naturally starts to get tired.
Drowsy driving is a very dangerous practice. C.R. England joins with the rest of the trucking industry to encourage carriers and their drivers to look for ways to avoid drowsy driving.