Driving for hours on end is a thankless, difficult task. You’d think just sitting there and steering the vehicle would not take such a toll, but it does. Sure, you eventually get used to it, but as we all know, driving for long stretches can compromise your ability to stay alert.
Watching the road go by combined with the steady, if somewhat lulling motion of the vehicle can cause a number of undesirable conditions. Such conditions include drowsiness, lowered mental alertness, or create a state of slightly altered consciousness where you do everything unconsciously. There is also the associated fatigue and weariness that sets in long before the driver starts feeling sleepy.
This is why staying alert on the road without causing unnecessary harm to your body is imperative. In this article, you’ll find some effective, healthy tips that will help increase and boost your alertness when driving for long stretches. They may not be fancy, but these tips have been proven to work well.
Get Your Heart Pumping
The best and healthiest way to remove your mental fog, shake off that early morning grogginess, and stay alert for the better part of your driving is not by drinking tons of coffee. It is simply doing an early morning cardio. Running for 30-45 minutes every morning will rev up your metabolism, increase your mental alertness, and keep you sharp.
If more truckers did this, then there would be less need for coffee or sugary drinks to stay awake. As far as we are concerned, this is the single biggest way to stay focused. Running in the morning along with some light breakfast will help you stay alert for 5-7 hours every day. The rest you can get by doing some of the tips below.
Always Scan the Distance
Make it a habit to periodically look into the distance, guess what the driver ahead is going to do and create scenarios in your head. Sounds basic, doesn’t it? However, you’ll be amazed at just how alert you’ll be after doing this a few times.
It is fun, keeps you mentally alert and more importantly, helps you pre-empt other drivers –something that can save your life and prevent accidents. You should also make a habit of always being aware of your immediate environment. Check your mirrors, look around occasionally and do some road assessment.
Listen to Music
No, we do not mean just general radio. Listen to mid to fast tempo songs. They do not have to be your favorite – although that does help. Talk radio can often get boring, causing you to tune out and essentially defeating the purpose for which you turned the radio on in the first place. Better still, get a collection of latest hits or favorite tracks and play them when there’s nothing exciting on the radio.
We know you have deadlines and may not want to stop for any breaks. Don’t do this. Always stop for 10-30 minutes after driving for 4-6 hours. During this time, get down from your truck, stretch your legs, do some walking around or some physical activity to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. Remember: increased circulation eliminates brain fog and increases mental alertness.
Chew Some Gum and Other Things
Yes… chewing gum does the trick for staying mentally alert. Many truckers swear by this. Then, there’s also the added advantage of it keeping your breath fresh – the average individual has rank breath after closing their mouths for a few hours.
Just make sure to get the sugar-free gums. These are healthier and protect your teeth from damage. Speaking of stuff in your mouth, you should also try sunflower seeds. We are not saying chew them. Just the act of attempting to crack open the shells while driving is sure to keep you alert.
Keeping alert and healthy on the road is a major challenge that every trucker faces. If after trying all this you still have trouble remaining alert, it could signal other health issues. Using resources like www.driverphysicals.com will help you find a doctor sensitive to the needs of truck drivers. These doctors are also qualified to give DOT physicals if needed.
Oscar King is a health blogger who often writes about ways for people – particularly truckers – to keep themselves healthy and in excellent shape. If you wish to learn more about Oscar you can visit on Google+.