Fatigue Management: What Truck Drivers Need To Know
Driving tired can put you and others on the road in danger. Crashes involving fatigue are often more severe, because drivers don’t have a chance to brake or try to avoid the crash. That’s why it’s important for truck drivers to know the signs of fatigue and the next steps to take.
You may think you can fight tiredness, but your body stops functioning at its full capacity and eventually sleep will take over. That’s when being behind the wheel of a large truck can become hazardous. Here’s everything you need to know about fatigue management.
The first step is understanding what fatigue can do to your body.
The effects of fatigue:
- Loss of alertness
- Drowsy driving
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Poor memory
- Bad mood
A study of heavy vehicle drivers in WA found that drivers who got less than 6 hours sleep experienced 4 times as many dangerous situations while they were driving.
Knowing the signs:
Driving at night is one of the most hazardous times, not only because of lower visibility, but also because your body clock will be telling you it’s time for sleep.
No matter the time you’re driving, always look out for the signs of fatigue,
- Sore or heavy eyes
- Slower reaction times
- Daydreaming and not concentrating on your driving
- Driving speed creeps up or down
- Impaired driving performance such as poor gear changes
- Stiffness and cramps
Once you know the signs, the next thing is taking steps to make sure you are well rested and driving safely.
Steps to take on the road:
- Find a quiet truck bay
- Use dark curtains and liners to keep out light
- Make sure your sleeping berth is well ventilated
- Always have eye-masks and earplugs
- Turn off your mobile phone and radios
- Take time to change out of your work clothes as you would at home
- Drink plenty of water
- If using a motel, find one (or a room) away from the road
If you’re a solo driver, use this basic fatigue planner to help you stay on track.
For drivers and operators, here’s a great fatigue management checklist.
And to understand who is responsible for managing driver fatigue, here’s a great resource.
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