5 Tips for Truck Driver Fatigue Management

Truck Driver Fatigue Management

5 Tips to Manage Truck Driver Fatigue

Hauling freight is a big responsibility. Highly skilled drivers shoulder more of this responsibility as they have a 35% better miles-per-gallon performance over other drivers. Drivers of all skill levels deal with the same issue though, driver fatigue.

To combat this issue, FMCSA safety regulations limit drivers to 60 hours a week. After this period, drivers must take a rest for 34 consecutive hours before getting on the road again. Still, drivers can spend up to 11 hours on the road per day before they are required to take a significant break.

Drivers can end up with as little as four to five hours a sleep a day. Many will take naps when possible, but this is not the same as a full seven to eight hour night of rest. This may explain why driver fatigue is one of the top 10 factors in commercial vehicle accidents.

There are some steps drivers can take to reduce this issue though.

Signs of Driver Fatigue

To make the most of these steps, it’s important for drivers to be aware when fatigue is coming on. Signs of driver fatigue include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Increase in smaller mistakes
  • Excessive nodding
  • Inability to keep your eyes open
  • Changes in mood
  • Decreased alertness and ability to concentrate
  • Not refreshed by longer sleep sessions

With truck drivers moving more than 70% of the nation’s freight by weight, they provide a valuable service. To keep them and everyone else a little safer on the road, drivers should follow five tips to manage driver fatigue.

1.      Sleep Well Before Long Hauls

It is well known that fatigue affects response times, performance, and critical thinking abilities. While this is known, many drivers face high expectations and great pressure when it comes time to move freight.

Drivers need to make a point to get as much quality sleep as they can before long trips. On their days off, drivers should sleep at the same time to help their body get better rest. They also should take naps during their trip when it becomes necessary to help them refresh.

2.      Follow Hours of Service Regulations

With the pressures of moving freight on time, it can be tempting for drivers to manipulate their hours of service where they can. They have deadlines to meet, clients to please, and money to earn, and the temptation to remain on the road longer than hours of service allows is strong.

It’s important for drivers to take regular breaks and log all necessary time. Luckily electronic logs are now required to keep record of these hours, so this temptation is reduced. Drivers need to be aware of their time to plan for breaks so they keep within those regulations though.

3.      Create an Exercise Plan When Not on the Road

Just as sleep during off time is important, so is exercise. Maintaining a consistent exercise plan when the driver is not on the road can help reduce the instances of fatigue.

Exercise helps keep the mind sharp and provides more physical endurance. Even when on long trips, drivers should take advantage of break times to get a little exercise and sleep to help them remain focused.

4.      Look for Healthier Snacks

When driving long distances, it seems easier to grab a sugary snack and caffeinated drink when it’s time to eat. Sugar and caffeine do give an initial rush of energy, but they can lead to a significant slump later.

Drivers should eat well-balanced meals at consistent intervals whenever possible. This isn’t always feasible, but it helps if it happens often. Understanding the need for healthier options to keep energy up, truck stops now have a decent selection of healthier options.

5.      Maintain Medications

Everyone has had a need for medications at some point. Whether it’s an over-the-counter medication or a prescription, it’s important to take them wisely. This includes being aware of any side effects and interactions between medications taken.

Safety Training Includes Driver Health

Truck drivers have to decide to take steps to fight driver fatigue. This means safety training should include proper fatigue and health management. Well-trained drivers lead to a more profitable fleet.

Ongoing training can prove difficult with drivers regularly on the road though. Infinit-I Workforce Solutions provides an online training management system so drivers can access important safety training anywhere at their convenience. Plus, you can easily keep track of driver progress and ensure they keep important safety topics top of mind.

To learn more about how our online training system can help your fleet, request a demo of the Infinit-I Workforce system.