Jun 6, 2023

Truck Driver Fatigue and Sustaining a Healthy Trucker Life

Truck driving is an essential industry for many countries, especially in the United States, but it comes with its own set of challenges. One of the most significant issues truck drivers face is fatigue. Truck driver fatigue can lead to accidents, putting not only the driver's life at risk but also other road users' safety.

Do you want to focus more on your daily operations and not stress out yourself and your fleet? It is convenient and practical to be part of a Consortium/Third-Party Administrators (C/TPAs) like Labworks USA to manage all, or part, of an employer's DOT drug and alcohol testing program and other DOT or FMCSA compliance needs. THIS WILL YOU A LOT OF TIME AND RESOURCES that you can redirect on any unprecedented additional expenses. We perform tasks as agreed to by the employer to assist in implementing the drug and alcohol testing program and to help keep the employer compliant with the DOT/FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Testing rules and regulations.
We as a DOT Consortium can help you.

Sustaining a healthy lifestyle as a truck driver is crucial in reducing the risk of fatigue. Drivers are often on the roads for extended periods, making it challenging to maintain a balanced diet and engage in physical exercise regularly. In this article, we will explore some practical tips and tricks that truck drivers can follow to promote good health and mitigate the risk of fatigue while on the job.

Truck Driver Fatigue and Its Effects

Truck driver fatigue is a significant issue in the trucking industry. So what is fatigue driving?

Long hours behind the wheel, irregular sleep patterns, and poor eating habits can all contribute to fatigue. The effects of driver fatigue can include decreased reaction time, impaired judgment, and an increased risk of accidents.

Studies have shown that fatigued drivers are just as dangerous on the road as drunk drivers. Speaking of drunk drivers, it is equally important to take note that the Department of Transportation is strictly requiring Alcohol and Drug Testing compliance. You can read more about it here.

Again, truck driver fatigue has been identified as a factor in many high-profile accidents involving commercial vehicles. In addition to endangering themselves and other motorists on the road, fatigued drivers also put their cargo at risk.

To combat truck driver fatigue, it is essential for truckers to prioritize their health and well-being. This includes getting enough rest before each shift, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine while on the road, and taking regular breaks during long drives. Employers can also help by providing education and resources for their drivers on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle while working in such demanding conditions. Ultimately, preventing truck driver fatigue is crucial for ensuring safe roads for everyone.

Tips for Staying Alert on the Road

1. Exercise for Truckers

Truckers have to spend long hours on the road, which can lead to a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits. However, it is crucial for truckers to prioritize exercise and a healthy diet to maintain their physical and mental well-being. They can start by incorporating simple exercises into their daily routine, such as stretching, walking or jogging during breaks, or using resistance bands in their truck cab. (1)

2. Stay Hydrated, Eat Healthy Snacks, and Maintain a Healthy Trucker Diet

Dehydration can lead to fatigue and drowsiness, which can be dangerous while driving. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially during the hot summer months.

Eating healthy snacks like fruits, nuts, healthy turkey jerky, and vegetables can give you a quick energy boost without causing a sugar crash later on. Avoid eating heavy meals before driving as they may cause lethargy. Better use of protein bars easy option for truck drivers. Take note of these healthy snacks for truck drivers. 

In addition, they should focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods that provide sustained energy throughout the day. Preparing healthy meals for truck drivers at home before the trip or opting for healthier options at rest stops can help reduce the temptation of fast food and unhealthy snacks. It is also essential for truckers to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

Never underestimate eating healthy truck driver food or meals.

3. The Importance of Proper Sleep

Get Plenty of Rest

A healthy sleep schedule is critical for staying alert on the road. Ensure that you are getting enough sleep before hitting the road, and take breaks when necessary to catch up on lost sleep. Keep in mind that fatigue can accumulate over time, so it's essential to prioritize rest. 

Proper sleep is essential for anyone, but it is especially vital for truck drivers. Truck driver fatigue can lead to accidents on the road, which is why it is crucial to ensure that you get enough rest before hitting the highway. According to studies, individuals who are sleep-deprived have slower reaction times and poor decision-making skills. This means that a tired trucker may take longer to stop their vehicle or be unable to react quickly in hazardous situations. (2)

Aside from safety reasons, getting proper sleep can help sustain a healthy trucker life. Lack of rest can cause long-term health problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Moreover, insufficient rest decreases productivity levels and impairs mental alertness leading to mood swings and frustration while driving on the road. Getting adequate sleep promotes optimal physical health by reducing stress levels and improving cognitive function. Ultimately leading to better work performance on the job as well as maintaining a good quality of life outside of work hours.

Nothing beat a great quality of sleep at the best time of day.

Take Breaks

How do truck drivers stay awake on the road? Just simple. Taking periodic breaks while driving can help you awake, alert, and focused on the road ahead. It's essential to take short breaks every few hours or as needed if you feel tired or fatigued.

Taking breaks and getting enough rest is vital in preventing fatigue-related accidents while driving. Proper sleep hygiene practices such as avoiding caffeine before bedtime and creating a comfortable sleeping environment can improve overall sleep quality. Let's talk more about the importance of proper sleep to be a healthy trucker.

4. Make Your Truck Safe and Sound

Use Cruise Control

Using cruise control allows drivers to maintain a steady speed without having to use their feet continuously, reducing fatigue and strain on leg muscles.

Listen To Music Or Audiobooks

Listening to a wide variety of music or audiobooks while driving helps keep your brain engaged and active throughout long periods behind the wheel. It prevents drowsy driving. It is best to do this at all periods of time especially if you have a lack of sleep or have sleep disorders.

Keep The Truck Cool And Comfortable

A comfortable temperature inside your truck will make it easier for you to stay awake by keeping your body relaxed and comfortable. This is actually applicable for all road drivers and not just for long-haul trucking. 

Prioritizing exercise, healthy eating habits, adequate rest time, and a conducive truck environment can maintain a trucker's physical fitness and prevent health complications associated with long-haul truck drivers driving careers.

Mental Health Awareness for Truckers

Truckers are often faced with long hours of driving, irregular schedules, and sleep deprivation which can all have negative impacts on their mental health. It is important for truckers to maintain a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally to avoid burnout and fatigue. Mental health awareness can help them identify potential issues and seek appropriate help.

One way to promote mental health in the trucking industry is through training programs that educate drivers about stress management techniques, communication skills, coping mechanisms for loneliness or isolation while on the road, and identifying signs of depression or anxiety. These programs can be implemented by employers or industry organizations.

Another important aspect is access to resources such as counseling services, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), online support groups, or hotlines that provide confidential support 24/7. Truckers should be encouraged to take advantage of these resources when needed without fear of judgment or repercussions from their employers. Owner-operators and trucking carriers could also offer trucker health insurance to their drivers as a benefit.

Taking care of mental health not only benefits the individual but also promotes safety on the road by reducing the risk of accidents caused by driver fatigue or stress-related distractions.

Regulations and Company Policies

Regulations and company policies play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of truck drivers on the road. A professional driver should take note of this.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has set regulations that limit the number of hours a driver can be behind the wheel, depending on their work schedule. This is to prevent truck driver fatigue, which is one of the leading causes of accidents involving commercial trucks. Moreover, before a company can conduct any Drug or Alcohol testing on its employees, it must have a policy in place and employees must have a signed copy in their possession. Reach out to Labworks USA if you need one at a very reasonable price.

In addition to federal regulations, trucking companies have their own policies regarding driver schedules and rest breaks. These policies are put in place to ensure that drivers are well-rested and alert while driving. It will also prevent the risk of injury at any circumstance. Some companies also provide wellness programs for their drivers to promote healthy habits such as exercise and healthy eating.

Overall, it is essential for both regulatory agencies and companies to prioritize the safety and well-being of truck drivers. By enforcing regulations and implementing company policies that address issues such as fatigue, we can help sustain a healthy trucker life and ensure safer roads for everyone.

Quick Tip: Here's a list of DOT Consortium services we offer at Labworks USA with respective rates that can be your reference to have better expense projections.

Conclusion: Prioritizing Trucker Health for Safer Roads

In conclusion, prioritizing health is crucial for safer roads, especially in the case of truck drivers. Truck driver fatigue is a significant cause of accidents on highways and can result in severe injuries or even fatalities. By adopting healthy habits such as proper nutrition, regular exercise, and adequate rest, truck drivers can reduce their risk of fatigue and related accidents.

Remember that it was never a comparative question of how much truck driver makes versus how many truck drivers die a year due to being overfatigued. It is never worth it to risk your health as a truck driver just to earn so much.

Additionally, companies that employ truck drivers should prioritize their employees' health by providing them with access to healthy food options at rest stops and encouraging physical activity during breaks. Safety training should also include information on recognizing signs of fatigue and stress management techniques to prevent burnout. Investing in the health of truck drivers not only benefits the individual but also promotes safer roads for all motorists.

Overall, prioritizing health for truck drivers must become a priority to ensure safer roads across the country. By taking proactive measures towards improving overall well-being on the road, we can significantly reduce incidents caused by driver fatigue while promoting an industry-wide shift towards healthier lifestyles among truckers. Healthy truck drivers will keep our roads safe and sound.



(1) Health – Long-Haul Truck Drivers, Work Safety Topics, https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/truck/health.html

(2) CMV Driving Tips - Driver Fatigue, FMCSA, https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/driver-safety/cmv-driving-tips-driver-fatigue

If you are looking for more information about drug and alcohol testing as a truck driver, visit LabWorks USA. Our DOT Consortium's friendly team will be more than happy to discuss any concerns you may have and work with you to ensure you are always fully compliant specially with random DOT drug and alcohol testing pre-employment testing. Moreover, if you need help with FMCSA Clearinghouse registration, we can further support you.