For individuals traveling on the highways on a daily basis, such as truckers, battling the tendency to zone out can be particularly difficult. Staying alert at all times, however, is one of the best ways to prevent yourself from having to overpay for commercial trucking insurance.
While it can be difficult to keep your truck drivers 100% focused on the road, there are a few simple but powerful ideas to stay alert while driving.
To help keep your truck drivers safe and focused while on the road, here are some useful tips for keeping alert and not zoning out while behind the wheel.
What Causes Truck Drivers to Zone Out While Driving?
Zoning out is natural for all truck drivers who spend extended amounts of time on the road. In most cases, it is your brain’s way of telling you it has turned on autopilot.
In other cases, however, zoning out could be due to other causes.
It might not sound like a big deal, but sleep loss or sleep deprivation can take a major toll on your mental functioning and make you more likely to zone out while driving.
If you ever had to deal with a lot of new details all at once, you may have felt a bit dazed and uncertain, like your mind started wandering despite trying to stay focused on absorbing the new information.
In this instance, zoning out occurs because your brain is trying to process all of the new information in the background.
In the face of acute stress, some people react by zoning out or dissociating from the event in front of them.
Zoning out occurs because your brain is trying to protect you from any associated trauma that may come with the stress you are dealing with.
7 Effective Ways to Avoid Zoning Out on the Road
Here are seven great ideas to prevent a driver from zoning out while carrying your company’s cargo.
1. Power Nap
If you notice yourself starting to zone out, try taking one quick 20-minute power nap.
These naps are brief enough that they not only help make you wake up alert and ready to move but long enough to fill your energy tank and help you battle sleepiness and zoning out.
Additionally, when you’re done with your nap, take a quick 10-minute stroll to wake up your body and get some fresh air to feel refreshed for your drive.
2. Eat, Sleep, and Hydrate
We all do it when we’re the driver of long drives, we load up with chocolate or candy, energy drinks, and fast food. While many of these things might wake you up for a little while, in the long haul, they’re not the safest alternative to stay awake while traveling for a long distance.
Not only does junk food make you feel tired and sleepy as the sugar or caffeine rush wears off, but junk food will also break down your digestive tract, leaving you to feel nauseous and unable to drive.
Before you hit the highway for the day, enjoy a lunch full of protein, vegetables, and fiber, and be sure to look for foods that are high in magnesium and B12 to naturally combat sleepiness.
3. Listen to Something Interesting
One of the best ideas to stay focused for a long distance behind the wheel is through the use of technology.
Most modern trucks are outfitted with radios and phone receivers to keep truck drivers focused while on the highway.
So, whenever you’re bored or feeling sleepy, consider turning up the music, your favorite podcast, or something else that is interesting to keep your mind alert and your focus on the road.
4. Plan Your Drive Ahead of Time
As previously mentioned, stress is one main cause of zoning out on the road and though it may not seem like it, mapping out the details of your road trip is the perfect way to reduce stress while you’re behind the wheel.
Too many people insert their destination into smartphones while driving without any understanding as to when and where they want to stop along the journey, leading them to make last-second decisions, which can be dangerous in some instances.
While you can use your GPS to give you an idea of how to get somewhere, the easiest way to stay alert on the road is to understand how long it will take you to get from point A to point B and search for rest areas and dining spots ahead of the journey.
5. Prioritize Rest Breaks
Getting to the destination on time is vital to maintaining a constant supply of customers, but shipping goods and getting there safely is more important than anything else.
Unforeseen events will certainly interrupt a road trip, but taking planned rest breaks won’t.
Taking rest breaks is important to helping you stay awake while traveling for a long distance on the highway, and stretching your legs or checking out a change of scenery helps break the monotony of the trip.
6. Minimize Night Truck Driving
Because it’s dark, there’s nothing for truck drivers to look at through the window, which can send any truck driver’s mind wandering.
Aside from indistinguishable road signs, night driving changes our sense of depth, color recognition, and peripheral vision—making nighttime commutes much more dangerous than daytime truck driving.
If possible, plan your trip during the daytime to avoid the dangers involved with night travel.
7. Know the Signs of Truck Driver Fatigue
Most importantly, to avoid zoning out while on the road, it’s important that you know the signs that lead you to do so.
Symptoms of truck driver fatigue include things such as difficulty concentrating, frequent yawning, failure to keep eyes open, head bobbing, and burning eyes—all of which can result in improper judgment, impaired decision-making, and inconsistent response times.
The more that you remain mindful of what causes you to zone out, the more you can be aware and remain concentrated to avoid it happening to you.
Keep Your Truck Drivers Safe
We understand it can be difficult to stay alert and focused while behind the wheel, but we hope the tips mentioned above can help keep your truckers safe from zoning out while truck driving.
If you need commercial truck insurance for your truck drivers, reach out to our team. We understand that your commercial trucking company is unique, which means you need specialized insurance to make sure that your company is protected.
With more than 25 years of experience in the commercial truck insurance industry, we remain committed to providing our customers with the most competitive and personalized insurance plans available.