Read about usefull tips for safer driving
Oh, the long haul – one of the mixed blessings truck drivers have to deal with all the time. On one hand, long hauls can be the perfect time to be alone with your thoughts. On the other hand, long hauls can sometimes seem endless, with time feeling as if it had slowed down and the final destination seemingly moving further away from you. That’s when long hauls become dangerous.
According to scientists from the University of Tsukuba, Japan, boredom can cause fatigue.
The so-called ‘feel-good’ center in our brains is the one to blame here because, unless our mind and body is stimulated in some way, that same center will make you feel sleepy and drowsy, and you’ll start to lose focus.
Just think back to your school days, and how easy it was to stay alert and active when your favorite teacher was using various mediums to relay their knowledge, in contrast with that one teacher that just droned on and on.
Although you are in a confined space that doesn’t offer much to do except sit and drive, there are things you could do to help you fight the drowsiness and keep your laser-sharp focus.
1. Don’t push yourself.
Listen to your body and mind. If your arms and eyelids feel heavy, and you’re starting to slouch, stop at the next convenient place and take a proper break. We suggest taking a 20-minute power nap first, and then do some basic exercises to get the blood flowing and your heart rate up. Focus on stretching rather than doing push-ups, sit-ups etc, however a few squats will help your legs wake up a bit. Don’t focus only on your legs, though – your neck, arms, and back need some TLC, too.
2. Stick to healthy food and essential vitamins.
Fast food is tasty, sure, we can admit that. However, it’s the absolute worst choice for long haul truckers because, in the long run, it actually makes you sleepy. Instead opt for high-energy foods which are rich in complex carbohydrates and protein, since that’s the kind of food that will give longer lasting stamina. Besides this, choose lean meats while on the road, like chicken and turkey, and stock up on fruits and veggies.
Finding healthy food, or making your own, isn’t always easy or convenient on the road (another reason why so many of us eventually resort to eating fast food). However, you can seek the help of vitamins. Check with your doctor which vitamins would benefit you the most, and include them into your daily routine. The best part is that vitamins will be beneficial to you in the long run as well, not only while you’re on the road.
3. Choose water over sugary drinks.
Store-bought juices and carbonated drinks are loaded with sugar, with a 12 ounce (350 ml) glass of apple juice having 39 grams of sugar (9.8 teaspoons), while a carbonated drink having 40 grams of sugar (10 teaspoons). Although they are made of healthy, nutritious foods, the nutritional value of fruit juices can be misleading. Once the juice is squeezed from the fruit, it’s stored for up to a year before it actually reaches the store shelves. This process affects the flavor of the juice, and in order to regain the fruity taste additional sugar and ‘flavor packs’ are added. The amount of vitamins and antioxidants in these juices is insignificant in comparison to the amount of sugar and its effect on the organism.
Sugar can give you a quick rush of energy, but once that is expended people tend to crash hard, and feel sleepy and drowsy. That’s why it’s a better idea to hydrate with water most of the time, and occasionally treat yourself with some juice and carbonated drink.
4. Get a good night’s sleep.
Truck cabins are getting better and more comfortable each year, but there is really no substitute for a nice bed and proper pillow. Try to get a good night’s sleep the night before your long haul, and make it a priority to sleep at least 7 hours every night while on the road. By sticking to a bedtime routine, you’ll end up conditioning your organism to fall asleep and wake up around the same time every day. This kind of routine is very beneficial to us since your body will eventually learn to relax and rest while you’re sleeping, instead of you tossing and turning all night, half asleep.
5. Listen to audio-books, podcasts, and music.
Like we mentioned earlier, long hauls can get old very fast. Thankfully, the internet offers basically endless amounts of audio-books, which make great companions on the road. We suggest choosing a few books, but different genres, so that you can switch up if one gets boring.
Besides audio-books, podcasts are also your allies. Podcasting has become more prominent in recent years, offering a broad range of topics, so you’ll surely be able to find one you like.
If all else fails, crank up the radio and let music do its magic.
6. Dim the lights.
When you’re driving in the dark, all the headlights of oncoming vehicles and the lights on your dashboard will tire out your eyes pretty quickly. There’s nothing much you can do about the headlights, so try to avoid looking at them directly. As for the dashboard – most modern trucks have the option to dim the dashboard lights, so grab the manual and do yourself a favor by softening those lights a bit. Invest in some red lights you can use in your cabin at night, as well. Red light is easier on the eyes at night so you’ll be able to focus more easily.
A lot of responsibility falls on the shoulders of drivers during transport. They need to think about the truck, the cargo, the deadlines, and not to mention all the other vehicles around them. With so much pressure around them, drivers tend to forget about the most important element of the transport process – themselves. So, dear drivers, try to eat and sleep well, because we need your razor-sharp focus.