Being on the road all day and all night can be tiring. Staring at the chevrons on the road can make your eyes go blurry, and the long periods of intense concentration can leave you feeling drained at the end of a long journey. So it’s not surprising that driver fatigue is a real problem in today’s HGV driver community. In fact, it’s estimated that roughly 20% of the accidents that involve HGVs are due to drivers been overtired and making mistakes behind the wheel. But for a professional driver, you can’t afford to be tired, so today we’ve got 4 tips to help you stay awake, alert and safe behind the wheel.
Funnily enough, sleep plays a pretty important part in fatigue. If you don’t get enough sleep, it will build up and cause a prolonged state of fatigue. Over time, it can have the same impact as 4 or 5 drinks. So if you’re chronically fatigued through lack of sleep, it’s the equivalent of driving drunk. That’s why making sure you’re getting enough, good quality sleep is essential if you want to make sure you’re safe on the roads.
Exercise might make you feel tired at the time, but it can do wonders for your energy levels long term. Exercise releases endorphins, which floods your brain with happy hormones and adrenaline. Over the long term, a little bit of regular exercise can increase your energy levels, making you feel more awake and alert all the time. It’s also a great way to relieve tension in your body, and the frustration you’ve built up (which is another contributor to fatigue).
Eating big meals makes you tired. If you don’t believe us, just re-read this after you’ve had your Christmas dinner, and you’re feeling like a little sleep on the sofa would be quite nice. Our bodies weren’t designed to eat big meals – we evolved as grazers, eating little and often to keep up a constant stream of energy. So if you’re finding yourself getting tired after you eat, try eating less food in one go. Instead, spread your meals out over the day. You can even keep snacks in your cab so that you won’t be tempted to eat too much during rest stops.
Did you know that most of us are walking around every day chronically dehydrated? Our bodies are 70% water, but as we lose that water, it needs to be replaced. If you find yourself with a dry throat, dry lips and feeling hungry a lot, you might just be dehydrated. Long-term, dehydration can lead to fatigue, dizziness and drowsiness – none of which you want when you’re driving. This is an easy fix – just keep a bottle of water with you in the cab at all time, and make sure you drink from it.
At The LGV Training Centre, we believe it’s important to keep drivers safe on the road at all stages of their career. That’s why we put special emphasis not just on the technical side of things, but on the self-care side too. That means learning how to avoid fatigue and keep yourself in the best condition possible to drive safely. If you’d like to find out more, just get in touch with the team today.