Truckers face an endless list of hazards as they navigate the busy roads — and often-dangerous conditions — across different state lines. If you are a member of this industry, you will likely want to know that your employer has workers' compensation insurance in place. Despite strict rules that govern the hours that you may drive before mandatory rest periods, a number of additional occupational hazards may threaten your safety.
Although most of the dangerous conditions result from fatigue and drowsiness, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help protect you. However, eating healthy and regularly in this industry could be challenging, and you will have your work cut out for you when you try to find healthy meals at truck stops.
Fatigue-related trucking hazards
Even if you comply with regulations, monotony and boredom may cause drowsiness, and the manner in which you handle this will lessen or increase your chances of staying safe. Taking note of the following hazards of truck driving might serve you well:
- Avoid irregular meals: In addition to the aim to eat healthy meals, you may want to note that irregular eating times may cause food cravings and fatigue. Furthermore, eating a heavy meal immediately before you go to sleep, or skipping a meal before bedtime can prevent you from having a good night's sleep.
- Listen to your body: Your body will tell you not to drive between midnight and 6 a.m. and to try to take a rest break between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Those are the periods of natural drowsiness, but if you do not get sufficient sleep, fatigue may overcome you at any time.
- Recognize the warnings: Protect yourself by recognizing the warning signs sent by your body. Your eyes may become heavy, and frequent yawning may lead to blurred vision.
- Take appropriate action: Safety authorities say short naps lasting between 10 and 45 minutes can refresh you enough to tackle the next part of your trip. However, they do warn that you should allow yourself about 15 minutes to wake fully before taking to the road again.
- Take note — tricks do not work: Turning up the stereo, smoking, opening the window and drinking coffee provides short-term alertness. None of these is a cure for drowsiness, even though it might make you feel fresh, it will last for only minutes.
- Heed the warnings on medications: Tranquilizers, cold medicines, allergy medication and sleeping pills typically have warnings about causing drowsiness. It might be wise to study the information pamphlet of any medication and heed the warnings.
If you keep these safety tips in mind, you might avoid falling asleep while driving or crashing due to drowsiness. However, your occupation will pose multiple other risks, but at least if you avoid fatigue, you might be able to recognize and avoid the other trucking hazards that may come your way. If you do suffer an on-the-job injury, you may find comfort in knowing that experienced legal counsel is available to navigate a workers' compensation benefits claim for you.