If you, a friend, or a family member has made a career as a truck driver, you likely know just how challenging and demanding it is. While FMCSA regulations stipulate that drivers can only drive for 11 hours after ten hours off duty, and they must take a 30-minute break for every eight hours of cumulative driving, driving still takes a toll over the long term.
Truck Drivers need to focus on their health because it’s essential for their safety and the safety of others on the road. Driving while fatigued can be extremely dangerous and can lead to accidents. Here are five healthy tips to reduce driver fatigue.
Tips to Reduce Truck Driver Fatigue
- Eat Healthily. It’s easy to neglect nutrition and instead pick up fast food while on the road. Unfortunately, the preservatives and fat in fast food both sap your energy and add pounds to your midsection. Focus instead on high-protein, low-fat foods. Examples include deli-cut roast beef sandwiches, eggs, oatmeal with fruit, protein bars, soups, salads, roasted or baked chicken, whole grain bread, and vegetables.
- Exercise. If possible, find a gym to stop at regularly. Chains like Planet Fitness have locations throughout the U.S. and offer reasonable rates. Another option is to carry free weights in your truck and do regular muscle exercises during breaks along with a half hour of cardio exercise, whether directed by a smartphone app or simply by walking around a service plaza. Movement is vital for unwinding tired muscles, easing stress, and promoting physical health. All of this helps you have more energy.
- Reduce Eye Strain. Eye strain from bright sunlight hitting black asphalt plagues most truck drivers. Fortunately, polarized safety glasses and polarized sunglasses reduce this glare while heightening clarity and depth perception. They also come in various styles and price options, making them an essential tool for every long-haul truck driver.
- Pay Attention to Your Mental Health. Those who have more time to think – and truck drivers certainly have a lot of that – often need additional outlets. Options include writing thoughts in a notebook before bed, using a voice-activated smartphone app to record ideas while driving, listening to uplifting music, and talking to encouraging people using a hands-free approach while driving. Not only will reducing mental stress in these ways reduce anxiety, but it will also help you sleep better. As every truck driver knows, good sleep is essential for doing your job well.
- Manage Stress. Managing stress, especially when you’re miles away from home, is essential for avoiding unhealthy habits. Try listening to bestselling books on tape or try to learn a new language to help you relax while driving. Find a lifegiving habit (e.g., reading, drawing, writing, etc.) to pursue during breaks. Managing stress in these ways goes a long way in energizing a person.
Life as a truck driver involves a lot of time away from home, and getting a good night’s sleep or a healthy meal is often more difficult on the road. The tips above can help reduce driver fatigue and improve overall mental and physical well-being.