Fatigue; we’ve all experienced it at one time or another. Maybe it was after a long day at work, maybe it was because you didn't’t get enough sleep the night before. Whatever the reason, fatigue can be dangerous. As a truck driver, fatigue can be deadly.
|Exercising regularly can help decrease the instances of fatigue in your life.
Fatigue is weariness or exhaustion from labor, exertion, or stress. It affects your safety and the safety of the motoring public while you’re on the road. Fatigue will slow your reaction time and decrease your awareness. It increases risky driving behaviors such as speeding or tailgating and often you don’t even know you are impaired.
Some of the signs and symptoms of fatigue are:
- Sleepiness, including falling asleep against your will;
- Loss of appetite;
- Digestive problems;
- Increased susceptibility to illness.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, less than 10% of the nearly 41,000 to 45,000 traffic deaths that occur every year within the U.S. are the fault of commercial truckers. However, you can’t ignore the fact that fatigue played a part in at least some of those accidents. Long service hours combined with tight time lines and little margin for error can lead to unsafe driving practices and fatigued driving.
To maintain your most alert state when driving, avoid alcohol, drugs, and medications that cause drowsiness. Learn and follow the hours of service requirements that apply to you. Don’t multi-task while driving; keep your eyes and mind on the road. You should also listen to your own biological clock. Your body knows when it’s tired and when it needs rest. Night driving (e.g., from midnight to dawn) is associated with the worst driving performance in studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Here are some ways you can combat and decrease the instances of fatigue in your life:
- Drink water instead of coffee. A hydrated body is a less fatigued body;
- Maintain a healthy diet;
- Avoid stimulants, alcohol, nicotine and medications such as antihistamines;
- Exercise Regularly.
Regular exercise is a very important way to decrease fatigue and can increase feelings of energy – particularly in sedentary individuals. Doing 20 minutes of low intensity exercise, such as a brisk walk or easy bike ride three times a week reduces fatigue by 65 percent!
What exactly happens in your body when you exercise? In addition to the physical health benefits, amazing things are going on in your brain: Endorphins, Serotonin and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor are released when you exercise.
The effects of endorphins include improved immune responses, decreased stress as well as a positive and energizing outlook on life. Serotonin is a natural mood enhancer and when its levels increase during exercise it helps to alleviate symptoms of depression. Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, known as BDNF, is a neurotransmitter. This chemical has been shown to help reduce the symptoms of depression as well as improve memory and recall. Think about it, so little brings so many benefits. Twenty minutes a day, that’s not much to ask, is it?
Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising and getting the sleep your body needs to repair the damage done during the day is the first step in combating fatigue and in a larger sense dangerous driving. Keeping your body healthy and rested will help you maintain a long and healthy business.