Road Trip

Road Trip? 9 Tips Truck Drivers Use To Stay Awake

By Jen Dennis

When it comes to crowd-sourcing advice for your summer road trip, everyone’s got movies, playlists, and hashtags that’ll help you rule the road. But what about driving tips to help you stay alert and awake (because no one wants to fall asleep behind the wheel)? We got advice from people who know best: Long-haul truck drivers. Their tips are road-tested, literally.

1. Pack early and get to bed on time

Instead of spending all night packing the night before you leave, pack two nights ahead, so you can get a full eight hours of sleep before you hit the road. Being well-rested could mean fewer mood swings (your car mates will thank you) and pit stops for junk food because you’re tired.

2. Consider driving in the morning

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, many drowsy driving fatalities occur in the late afternoon and between midnight and six a.m, when your circadian rhythm (your body’s internal clock) signals you to sleep. Heading out early in the day, when energy levels are higher, may be a good idea.

Driving

3. Skip junk food

Your road diet shouldn’t consist of salt and sugar bombs from the gas station. Those foods send your blood sugar on a roller coaster of peaks and crashes. Nix them for healthier snacks that sustain your energy, like sunflower seeds (a trucker favorite), air-popped popcorn, carrot sticks, or kale chips.

4. Hydrate carefully

While the jury is out on caffeine (some truckers say it’s essential — others say it makes them jittery), all agree that drinking fluids consistently can help you stay awake. However, a road trip isn’t the time to experiment with an energy drink you’ve never tried before. Stick to what you’re used to.

5. Crank the A.C.

A warm and cozy cab is a trucker no-no. Keep the inside of your car cool to boost alertness.

Road

6. Call for help

Breaker-breaker 1-9! Talking has long been a favorite pastime for truckers. Find out how your carmates are handling adult life, relationships, and student debt. Try these questions to keep the conversation going.

7. Take a break

Pulling over is always an option. Some truckers do jumping jacks and pushups to wake themselves up. Others prefer to nap for 20 minutes, while their trucks are loading.

Trip Break

8. Play mind games

You can only listen to so much music before you tune out. That’s why you should have an entertainment menu ready to keep your brain active. Some drivers listen to audiobooks or take audio foreign language courses. Some even report doing math problems as they drive (respect!). You could also pick from these 32 road trip games.

9. Use your mirrors

Several truckers say that looking in the rear and side-view mirrors regularly is one way to keep your eyes from narrowing into tunnel vision. Scientific? Possibly. Worth a try for safe travels? Definitely.

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