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:

  • Tiredness;
  • Sleepiness, including falling asleep against your will;
  • Irritability;
  • Depression;
  • Giddiness;
  • 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.

Comments (13)

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Team Driving and Sleeping

February 26, 2014

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Good tips, I don't about anyone else I can't do anything right when fatigued.

September 29, 2012 12:14:25 PM

Great article,Drinking water instead of coffee is truly great for the body it stops you from retaining water and flushes your system a great number of toxins. the only downfall is the amount of times you have to stop to releave yourself , but it is a great time for a little exerscise! Keep the great info comming.

September 21, 2012 9:24:50 AM

I used to drink a gallon or more of coffee a day because I thought I needed it to stay alert. I have given it up and substituted water or green tea (with mint). I have not missed the coffee at all which shocks me and I am less fatigued without it.

September 04, 2012 8:59:41 AM

I find for me age has certainly played a role in fatigue. The older I get the more I struggle with night driving. More water and less coffee has helped alot.

August 29, 2012 6:54:12 AM

While fueling at my companies' terminal, I do a very close-up walk around inspection, and do a few stretches while supporting myself with fender mirrors, steps, etc. Besides fighting fatigue, getting out and getting in a little bit of exercise just makes me feel good !

August 18, 2012 17:18:15 PM

I find that if I drink a glass of water for every cup of coffee, I actually feel more alert and don't get dehydrated.

August 05, 2012 10:23:03 AM

I think the scariest part is the slowing of our reaction times when the seconds really matter. I'm about to take a long road trip and this is as good a reminder for me as it is for people who drive for a living.

August 03, 2012 12:35:13 PM

Living in Colorado, we all learn to drink lots of water because of the altitude. It is so important to do in any environment!

August 03, 2012 8:24:25 AM

It is very easy to not drink enough water while driving the truck and drink to much coffee. Not a good plan! Getting out of the truck and doing a few step ups on the truck steps and using the fender of the truck for standing pushups can get the blood moving and help with drowsiness.

August 01, 2012 13:53:46 PM

Being aware of the affects of medication on your body is extremely important as well. I get sleepy when I take any medication.

August 01, 2012 13:34:44 PM

It is truly amazing how drinking plenty of water improves your alertness and mood. No more "case of the Mondays" by downing a liter of water!

August 01, 2012 10:59:20 AM

For me, just 10 minutes of simple exercise in the morning does a lot of fatigue. Even if it involves going on a quick walk.

July 31, 2012 16:38:32 PM

This is a great article to remind us how easy it is to become fatigued on the road. For many it sneeks up on them so slowly they are not even aware of the fatigued state they are in.

July 31, 2012 16:16:30 PM