As a truck driver, you have a responsibility to avoid fatigue and remain alert. You might also have a demanding schedule that can leave you feeling fatigued. Although there are many rules and regulations in place to help you avoid exhaustion and the impaired driving it causes, you can still suffer from it, even while you operate within the established guidelines. If you are serious about your safety and of the other drivers around you, there are still steps that you can take to avoid the dangers associated with chronic fatigue.
Rules about Sleeping. As a truck driver, below are the minimal regulations for sleeping and shift work that you must follow:
- A driver may drive no more than 11 hours of every 14 hour shift, if they have been off-duty for 10 or more hours. Remember, the 14 hour shift includes time spent on stops.
- If you have been on duty for a total of 60 hours during seven consecutive days, you need to cease driving. Furthermore, you may not drive if you have been on duty for a total of 70 hours over eight consecutive days. You may start the count over again only after 34 hours of off duty time.
- If you are using a sleeper berth, then you must spend at least 8 hours of consecutive time in the berth. You must also take an additional 2 hours off duty either in or out of the berth.
Rules to Avoid Fatigue. After following the above regulations, if you find that you are still chronically tired, consider these additional steps:
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Most people need at least seven hours of sleep each day, and many need eight.
- Do not work shifts that are longer than eight hours in length.
- Drive in consecutive blocks of seven or eight hours rather than a few hours here and there.
- Sleep when you are tired, rather than when you think you should. It is easier to get to sleep, and stay asleep, if you are ready for sleep.
- Avoid over-use of caffeine. When used too often it can interrupt your sleep cycle and end up making you more tired.
- Prepare a quiet, dark, comfortable place to sleep each night.
- As much as you are able, keep a regular schedule. People who work jobs that necessitate shift changes often find that they need several weeks to adjust to their new shift. This time of adjustment often leaves them exhausted and unable to get enough rest, which can create a hazardous situation. If you continually change your schedule, you will need the same time for adjustment.
- Whenever possible, plan to take naps. As part of your natural clock, your body temperature, mood, and motivation drop off between 2:00 and 4:00 in the morning and again in the afternoon. Sleeping or napping during these hours will fit perfectly with your natural body rhythms.