Staying Awake While Driving

Would it be a shock to learn that the annual average of drowsy related driving accidents is estimated around 80,000? That is roughly 220 crashes per day that are caused by being drowsy. Unfortunately, we see on the news that accidents occur when a truck driver falls asleep behind the wheel. Most of the time, these drivers will do so on a stretch of highway where there is little traffic. However, there are times when fatigue results in an accident where another motor vehicle is involved. Its accidents like these that can do some damage to smaller non-commercial vehicles. It is safe to say that staying awake while driving is very important. How do you accomplish this task? Here are several tips that will help you keep alert and awake while behind the wheel.

  • Your eating habits will affect how you feel throughout the day and will also affect how you sleep. A balanced diet includes eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, and cutting down on the sugars and empty calories. Consuming caffeine, alcohol and nicotine can also have negative effects on the way you rest. While caffeine may seem like a great alternative to keep you up, it is only a temporary fix. And nobody wants the crash later.
  • Having a consistent sleep cycle and regularly exercising will cut down on the fatigue feeling. Sleep experts recommend at least eight hours of sleep are required to function properly. Exercising a minimum of three times a week will not only keep you in shape, but will also allow for better blood circulation. More oxygen is sent to your head and you’ll be more alert.
  • If you notice that you are becoming more tired, it never hurts to take a break. Know your limits and recognize the warning signs. Excessive yawning, rubbing eyes, weaving, and not concentrating on the road are a few signs that you need to be aware of. If you experience any of these, do not hesitate to pull over. It’s much safer for you and the other drivers.
  • In a case where you are driving and fatigue starts to hit, try opening the window or listening to something. When the cooler air hits you, it shocks your senses that can leave you refreshed. And again, fresh oxygen for your brain is the best. Upbeat music or music you dislike are best to keep you up. If you’re not in the mood for music, try listening to an audio book. Just like reading a book, listening to a book requires you to be engaged and some requires participation from the listener.

Here are more tips on ways for staying awake while driving!

Should Speed Limiters Be Used?

There has been a nationwide debate on whether speed limiters, or governors, should be used on all commercial motor vehicles. To this day, the debate continues and can get very heated at times. There has been no clear winner when it comes to this topic, and we may not see a final decision for a period of time. What makes this topic so hard to clear up?

When I first think of limiters, my immediate thought is of slowing down those truck drivers that are dangerously driving above the posted speed limits. However, problems can also occur due to the variations of speed the vehicles on the highway are traveling. These are the main points of advocates on either side. Before you just pick a side, you need to look at the facts about the use and nonuse of limiters.

It is known that commercial trucks are much larger than normal vehicles, and because of this size, commercial trucks require longer stopping distances, and are vulnerable to break failure and rolling over. It would make since to say that driving slower will aid in the prevention of crash risks. When a driver has to maneuver quickly and is going over the 65mhp limit, they are more apt to causing more serious damage.

For those against limiters, the argument is just as valid as those who agree with limiters. They suggest that the variation in traffic speeds between commercial vehicles with limiters and noncommercial vehicles without will cause more problems on the highway, rather than reducing them. Studies show that highways where uniform speed is used for all traveling vehicles, reduces the risk of accidents. But when was the last time you were on the highway? Having everyone go the same speed sounds like an easy plan, but throw in the mix people that are behind and trying to make up time. This is the situation where we see that the variation in speed still exists.

Yes, speed limiters will improve the safety of the highway by slowing down trucks, but will this difference in speed create more danger for other drivers? Which will provide more safety for the road? More research will be needed before a final decision can be made.

Distracted Driving

With the technology we use today, we are able to stay connected nonstop. While this technology is great to talk with family you haven’t talked with in ages and to ask your spouse what’s for dinner, doing so while driving can be very dangerous. And when you’re driving a truck that cannot stop on a dime, becoming distracted can lead to situations where nobody wants to find themselves. To help combat distracted driving, the Department of Transportation established the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in January of 2000. The primary responsibility of the FMCSA is to aid in reducing the amount of crashes, injuries and fatalities involving commercial trucks and buses.

Distracted driving can be defined as the use of a mobile device where their attention is taken away from driving. This includes reaching for the device in a way that the driver is no longer sitting in a seating position, holding the phone with one hand, texting or dialing, and reading from the device. The only way to use a mobile device while driving is through a hands free system. Hands free systems come in the form of an earpiece-speaker phone or an audio system that will connect with your phone. Even with this type of system, you have to be cautious. Talking with a hands free system can still distract you. This violation also includes dispatching devices. Many look just like a mobile device, and are prohibited because they can be just as distracting.

Because of the negative impact distracted driving can have on the road, serious repercussions are taken if you caught. Having to pay a fine is the most immediate action taken. Repeat offenders can be taken off of jobs and put out of work for a period of time. Even the employer can be fined if they knowingly allow or require their drivers to use a handheld device. The safety rating that the company receives can be negatively affected as well.

Just think, when texting or dialing, you roughly take your eyes off the road for a few seconds. This doesn’t seem like a significant amount of time, but when going 55mph or faster, your truck will travel enough to cover a football field. Imaging driving with your eyes shut for that short period of time. You might say you would never do that, but if you use your phone while driving, that is exactly what you are doing.

Platooning: Coming Soon?

Platooning is a term in the trucking industry to describe a concept where one or more trucks operate and follow another at pre-set distances through radar and wireless communication to form a train like convoy. This type of driving requires a driver to monitor the truck and take over if needed, but essentially the driver is not driving. The goal is to increase highway safety and decrease both truck fuel usage and emissions. The technology put in the trucks to achieve platooning allows the trucks to communicate with each other, so if car gets in front of the first truck and slows down, the other trucks in the platoon will slow as well. Here within the next decade, we will see this technology on the road.

Just last week six different platoons formed by six European truck makes traveled to Rotterdam in the Netherlands on separate routes. The plan is to create a European partnership between the companies to share their knowledge and experience to create a better platooning system that will function with the positives of all the systems. In past blogs we talked about Daimler, with their semi-autonomous trucks and trailers. They were one of the six companies that met with the others.

Once platooning becomes a norm in the trucking industry, I’m sure will see more four wheeled vehicles adopting this same type of technology. We are already seeing technology in newer cars that aids drivers in stopping collisions, so it won’t be long before cars platoon as well. Just imagine, whether you are in a car or driving an 18 wheeler and you’re entering a highway. You find a platoon that is traveling in the same direction that you are and you sync with them. When you’re ready for your exit, you fall out of the “train” and the cars behind continue on with the rest of the platoon. This will truly make the roads safer and prevent many accidents cause by drivers as well as improve the overall efficiency of truckers. When the first set of trucks hit the road, many trucking companies will follow suit.