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How to Maintain Focus and Avoid Fatigue on Long Hauls?

A semi truck driving on a road at night with a moon on the background

Long-haul truck driving demands extended periods of attentiveness, making it a challenge to maintain focus and fight fatigue. Driving in Canada with varying terrains and extreme weather conditions is challenging. What can you do to stay sharp during those long stretches of endless highway? This blog highlights tips by our truck driving instructors to keep you focused and alert on long hauls. 

Did you know? 

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, fatigue is a significant factor in up to 20% of motor vehicle accidents. For long-haul truck drivers, the risks are even higher due to extended periods of driving, irregular sleep patterns, and the monotony of the road.

Physical Consequences

  • Slowed Reaction Time: Fatigue can slow down your reaction time, making it difficult to respond to sudden changes in road conditions.
  • Impaired Judgment: Lack of sleep can affect your decision-making abilities, leading to risky behavior like speeding or tailgating.

Mental Consequences

  • Reduced Attention Span: Fatigue can make it challenging to concentrate, increasing the likelihood of missing important road signs or signals.
  • Mood Swings: Lack of rest can lead to irritability, which can affect your interactions with other road users and even your own well-being.
Hand writing in a notebook with pins on a map to plan routes

Strategies to Maintain Focus

1. Plan Your Route

Using GPS and mapping tools provides you with a strategic advantage when planning your long-haul journey. Knowing what lies ahead can help you prepare mentally and physically. You can pinpoint rest stops, fuel stations, and potential detours along your route. 

2. Take Regular Breaks

Canadian regulations mandate that commercial drivers should not drive for more than 13 hours in a day and must take at least 8 consecutive hours off between shifts. Plan out your rest stops to match your 30 minute breaks during work hours. 

3. Stay Hydrated and Eat Well

Keeping a water bottle handy and taking small sips throughout your journey fights dehydration, which can impair cognitive function. Choose balanced meals that include protein, fruits, and vegetables to maintain your energy levels.

Techniques to Combat Fatigue

1. Power Naps

A short nap of 20-30 minutes can significantly improve alertness. Avoid napping for too long as it can make you feel groggy.

2. Physical Exercise

Simple exercises like stretching or a quick walk can boost blood circulation and help you stay alert. Work out for a minimum of 15 minutes around the time when you feel the most unfocused. 

3. Listen to Engaging Content

Listening to podcasts, audiobooks, or upbeat music is effective for breaking the monotony of a long drive. 

Technology to Assist You

Several tech tools can help you stay focused and alert:

1. Fatigue Monitoring Systems

By tracking eye movement and other facial indicators, the system can detect early signs of drowsiness. When the technology senses that you’re becoming fatigued, it triggers an alert, reminding you to take necessary action, whether that’s a short break or some fresh air. 

2. Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS)

This technology encompasses a range of features designed to augment driver safety. One such feature is lane departure warnings, which alert you if you’re drifting out of your lane without signaling. These systems often use cameras and sensors to monitor road markings and the vehicle’s position. When they detect an unintentional lane departure, they alert you through visual or auditory signals, or sometimes even through steering wheel vibrations. 

3. Adaptive Cruise Control

This feature automatically adjusts your truck’s speed to maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of you. Adaptive Cruise Control can reduce the mental load of constantly adjusting speed and allows you to focus more on the road.

4. Blind Spot Detection

Trucks have significant blind spots that can make lane changes risky. Blind Spot Detection systems use sensors to alert you of vehicles that might be in your blind spots.

5. Real-Time Weather and Traffic Updates

Apps and in-cab systems that provide real-time weather and traffic information can help you avoid dangerous driving conditions. 

For more tips on excelling your truck driving career, follow Caledon Truck Driving School blog.


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