Long-distance truckers have significantly higher accident rates than the general population. This is largely due to the long hours on the road that can induce driver fatigue and make drivers more susceptible to accidents.
If you are driving a semi or any other heavy-duty vehicle, looking after your own health during long-distance driving is vital for both your own protection and the protection of everyone else on the road. safety tips to follow the next time you hit the road.
1. Get Plenty of Sleep the Night Before
When driving long distances, the number one most important rule is to make sure you are well-rested and alert throughout the journey. Almost all accidents caused by long-distance truckers are the result of driver fatigue. If you are getting behind the wheel of an 80,000 semi-truck, falling asleep behind the wheel can be absolutely catastrophic.
Avoid screens in the hours before your bedtime and consider taking a natural sleep aid such as melatonin to help you drift off (avoid sleeping pills as these can leave you feeling tired throughout the day).
2. Eat Healthily When Long Distance Driving
If you are no stranger to long-haul driving, you probably already know that the trucker’s diet leaves little to be envied. When people are tired and facing long stretches on the road, they have a tendency to gravitate towards quick and easy gas station junk food.
However, you should resist reaching for a greasy burger during your next road trip and instead opt for fruits, veggies, and foods rich in good oils and omega 3. These will help you stay naturally alert during your drive and keep you healthy during those long periods when you are sat behind the wheel not moving. Maintaining a healthy diet will help you do your job more efficiently and keep your mood levels up.
3. Lay Off the Stimulants
Caffeine pills, red bull, and coffee that looks like crude oil are trucker staples. However, these should absolutely be avoided whenever possible. You might think that those stimulants are giving you a much-needed jolt of energy during those long hauls on the road, but they may be doing the exact opposite.
Caffeine dehydrates you and will often leave you feeling more tired in the long-run than if you had never consumed any at all. Excessive caffeine consumption may also make you jittery and cause difficulty in focusing exactly when you need to focus the most. Caffeine is best avoided altogether.
4. Ensure You Are Insured
This is not exactly a safety tip per se, but it is vital to make sure that you have full semi-truck insurance before you hit the road. That is why you should prepare for every eventually and get semi truck insurance that covers you in any and all cases of driver liability.
Having full coverage when driving long-distance will give you peace of mind and help you complete your journey without any unnecessary stress attached to it. Since it is also a legal requirement for professional long-haul drivers to have insurance, obtaining quality coverage is absolutely essential.
5. Plan Your Rest Stops
Resting will give you a chance to snap out of that notorious “autopilot mode” that often results in accidents. It is also a chance to refresh and wake your brain up, while also giving your body some much-needed exercise.
You should be planning regular rest stops at least once every two hours, although more often than this is even better for your health. The CDC also recommends pulling over and taking a 15-30 minute power nap These steps will help you feel refreshed and rested throughout your journey.
6. Don’t Forget to Exercise
As mentioned, exercise is vital when you are on a long-distance drive. Truck driving is a famously immobile activity, during which you could end up spending the vast majority of your day not moving at all. In the short and long-term, this can be catastrophic for your health. You should be getting at least 30 minutes of moderate to heavy exercise every single day. This is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and staving off killer conditions such as heart disease.
When you are facing long stretches on the road, it is also important to stop and exercise if you wish to keep alert and refreshed throughout your journey. During your rest stops, take the time to stretch your legs. Consider doing some common roadside exercises such as leg stretches, push-ups, and star jumps. You may think this is unnecessary, but your body will thank you for it.
7. Sit Up Straight
This one is simple but absolutely vital. Sitting up straight will maintain proper blood flow and keep you feeling alert during your drive. If you feel that telltale driver “trance” coming on, immediately sit up straight. This will get your blood moving and prevent you from falling into a slump.
The benefits of sitting up straight are also long-term; doing so will keep your posture in good stead and prevent you from developing back problems, which are a scourge of truck drivers everywhere.
8. Keep Your Brain Active
Finally, do not forget to keep your brain as well as your body active during your drive. Not only will this help you pay attention to the road, but it will also keep you engaged and entertained during those long stretches.
Consider downloading plenty of audiobooks before you hit the road. Pack some brain-teasing entertainment such as quiz apps and sodoku books before you climb aboard your truck. Keeping your brain active will help keep you healthy and safe during your long-haul driving.
Stay Healthy, Wherever You Are
Staying healthy during long-distance driving will help make your trucking job more enjoyable, while also keeping everyone else on the road safe. If you are looking for more essential health tips to keep your body, mind, and soul in good shape, we have got you covered. Make sure to consult our expertly-curated Lifestyle section for the health tips that you need in 2021 and beyond.