One very common problem that you hear many drivers talk about is staying awake on long haulage jobs. Truckers have extremely long days with little company and erratic sleep schedules; this can make staying awake very tricky late at night when there is little to keep you stimulated. |
Listen to your Body
It can be very frustrating when your eyes begin to feel heavy when you are on the job, but it is, of course, absolutely essential that you listen to your body. If you become sleepy, you must pull over as soon as possible and rest; this is not only for your own safety, but for the safety of other motorists and pedestrians.
Stay Awake for Longer
Whilst it is not possible to avoid sleep and you should never work against your body, I do have a few tips for delaying the onset of sleepines and feeling focused whilst driving.
• Keep the temperature low – Although you will be tempted to crank the temperature up in the evenings to feel warm and comfortable, this can also make you sleepy. Keep the temperature low (but obviously not freezing) and it will help you to stay alert.
• Listen to the radio – Keep your brain engaged by listening to the radio, podcasts or music. There are many excellent podcasts available - these are particularly good for truckers, as you can learn something new or listen to a story whilst on the job. Although listening to some form of entertainment will keep you engaged, it can also become tiresome, so you should take regular breaks.
• Avoid large portions – You know that sleepy feeling after feasting on Christmas dinner? This comes from eating too much food in one sitting. Although pleasant when you are relaxing on the sofa, you will want to avoid this at all costs on haulage jobs. Eat smaller but regular meals throughout the day to give you the boost you need.
• Go for a walk – If you are working against the clock and don’t have time for a nap, I recommend stopping at a rest stop and taking a 5-minute stroll. This will get you out of the cabin, allow you to stretch, get fresh air and engage your brain. Doing this every few hours can make a huge difference.
• Roll down the windows – If you don’t have the time to stop and go for a walk, consider simply rolling down the windows. This will give you a blast of fresh air that should temporarily shake off any drowsy feeling.
• Go easy on caffeine – Drinking coffee or an energy drink is a great way to give you a quick energy injection, but you must be careful with stimulants. By regularly drinking coffee and/or energy drinks, you will crash hard and it is also not good for your health. Instead, limit your intake and spread it out over the day. Water is a much healthier option to help you to stay sharp.
When to Pull Over
These are a few great ways to postpone that dreaded drowsy feeling. You won’t be able to hold it off indefinitely and the only solution will be to get some sleep. However, it can sometimes be difficult to tell when you are too tired to continue – these are the signs that you must pull over as soon as possible for some shut eye.
• Heavy eyelids and frequent blinking
• Repeatedly yawning
• Difficulty keeping your head up
• Difficulty remembering the last few miles or missing exits
• Drifting from your lane
• Feeling restless or daydreaming
Getting tired on the job is something that every trucker will have experienced on long haulage jobs. These are a few fantastic tips to perk you up and help you to stay alert for longer, but you must always listen to your body and look out for the telltale signs that it is time to pull over.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage jobs with available drivers. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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