A question many truck drivers are frequently asked is “how are you able to drive so many hours and stay awake?” Every driver has a method that works for them but there are many ways truck drivers are able to stay awake and alert for many hours while driving, some are good methods and some are not.
Below are 10 things truck drivers use to help them fight off sleepiness and stay awake while driving:
- Caffeinated Drinks
- Legal Medications: Stay Awake Tablets
- Illegal Medications: Amphetamines
- Anti-Sleep Tech
- Phone Apps
- Podcasts/ Audio Books
- Healthy Meals and Snacks
In the following sections, I will explain in more detail each of the things truck drivers tend to use to stay awake and the benefits and risks of each one.
A caffeinated beverage is probably the first thought when trying to stay awake, and truck drivers can definitely benefit from the energy boost of a cup of coffee or energy drink. No matter your caffeinated drink of choice, it can help you push through those tired hours on the road, but make sure to space out and not overdo your consumption to avoid an energy crash.
Legal Medications: Stay Awake Tablets
Sometimes a beverage isn’t always the most convenient form of quick energy boost, and there are plenty of over-the-counter caffeine and energy tablets that can get the job done. Typically called Stay Awakle Tablets, they can be found at most pharmacies, convenience, or grocery stores such as Walgreens, Rite Aide, Walmart, or Target. Similarly to caffeinated drinks, make sure to use correctly to avoid an energy crash.
Illegal Medications: Amphetamines
Truck drivers can fall into the bad habit of abusing illicit substances in order to stay awake during long night drives, and these should always be avoided. While some aphetamines can be prescribed, such as Adderral, overusing or using them without a prescription to stay awake is dangerous and illegal. Drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines are always illegal and have severe safety and legal dangers. Lanier Law Group talks more about these methods and their implications here.
One of the most promising developments in the fight against fatigue in the trucking industry has been the recent progress of anti-sleep technology. Many technology companies have developed tailored products to combat falling asleep at the wheel, including both wearable and external biometric technology that can monitor the driver’s alertness and jolt or alarm to wake them. This New York Times Article goes more into the details.
There are a variety of wearable anti-sleep gadgets that can ensure you stay alert while driving at night. These new technologies range from glasses, vests, headbands, caps, headwear, wristbands, and more! They can monitor head bobbing, blinking, and other biometric data that may indicate sleepiness or fatigue. It can then alert the driver to remedy the potential danger of falling asleep at the wheel and to take measures to stay awake.
- Main Function: Anti-fatigue alarm device.
- Alarm Mode: Sound alert with On and Off button
- Ergonomic design: Compact and lightweight (1 oz) alertme fits comfortably behind ear
- Battery operated: Replaceable button cell battery. Life Time: 30000 nods
- Safe to use: FFC approved, CE Certified and Mercury free
There are plenty of external ant-sleep monitors to keep truck drivers awake and alert without having the wear something while driving. One helpful technology comes in the form of a dashboard camera that monitors facial and gaze movement, alerting the driver if signs of tiredness are detected through audio alarms or seat vibrations.
- Fatigue Driving monitor Warning Device
- Drowsy Doze Alert Safe Driving Warning Device
- Anti sleep alarm monitor eye Blinking Detection Facial Reading Beep and Vibration drowsy Doze Alert...
- Safe driving monitor warning device driver care
- Driver Assist Dangerous Driving Warning System.
In addition to the technological products mentioned in the previous sections, there is also a selection of smart phone apps that can help monitor tiredness and keep you awake. This America Truck Driving Article details three helpful apps across IOS and Android: Drive Awake, Stay Awake, and Anti Sleep Driver. Each works a bit differently: the first monitors eye-closing in the selfie camera, the second has a time interval reset button, and the third used saturated blue light.
Music is a popular way for truck drivers to stay engaged while driving. Playing some favorite or high energy songs can help maintain focus due to the driver’s interest and the loud volume. Whatever type of music you choose to listen to, it can help you stay awake as long as you’re interested. If your music is acting more like a lullaby or becomes too distracting, you should change it up or take a break.
Similar to music, podcasts or audio books can be a great tool to stay awake on those late night drives. Some truck drivers are more captivated by stories, which makes audiobooks and podcasts more engaging and efficient at keeping the driver awake. If you find yourself unfocused on the story and feeling tired, you should change it up or turn it off and try another method to stay awake.
Vitamins are a great supplement for truck drivers to use to stay awake. Making sure you have the right vitamins in your body can increase alertness and brain clarity, giving you the energy needed to drive through the night. Vitamins B12, B6, A, C, D, and iron supplements are great vitamins to take to help truck drivers stay awake and alert.
Healthy meals and snacks are much more effective at decreasing tiredness than fattier or more unhealthy foods, says a study covered by Men’s Health. Though fast food and junk snacks are readily available on the road, fattier food are proven to increase feelings of sleepiness. Eating healthier, smaller, and more frequent meals over time is more conducive to staying awake than less frequent, bigger meals that are high in fats.
The inside of a truck cabin can be pretty dark at night, and that darkness can remind our bodies of sleep and trigger feelings of tiredness. To combat this sleepy environment, some truck drivers decorate the interior of their cabin with additional lighting, making their environment brighter and keeping their eyes more alert.
Though it may sound redundant, staying hydrated is a productive method of keeping yourself alert while driving. Drinking enough water will help your body feel fresh and your mind alert. It may also require more stops for bathroom breaks, but those breaks are great for moving around and keeping yourself awake.
Throughout this article we have detailed a variety of effective things truck drivers use to stay awake, but nothing is a true replacement for sleep. Make sure you are fully rested before starting a late night truck driving shift. Falling asleep at the wheel is potentially fatal for yourself and others, and you should make sure to pull over and take a nap if needed.