As a truck driver, getting your cargo from point A to point B safely is perhaps your most important responsibility. To do so, you need to be awake, alert and focused. There are many hazards on the road, the vast majority of which can be avoided by a focused driver. However, schedule demands can sometimes make it difficult to feel fully alert. Below are some tips on how to stay focused when driving.
Get Plenty of Rest
It probably comes as no surprise that getting sufficient rest is an important factor in staying focused on the road. However, a lot of truck drivers are woefully deficient in this department.
To ensure you are getting a proper night of sleep, be diligent about following a regular sleep schedule. Many people think that they can skimp on rest is a mistake. Going to bed at a consistent time and getting eight hours of sleep is a must for drivers. In fact, it is a legally protected right.
Also, strongly consider establishing a nighttime ritual. In other words, do the same activities every night before bed such as brushing your teeth and reading a book. Finally, make sure your cab is a comfortable temperature for sleeping.
Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
Drinking caffeine can be an excellent way to stay awake, but you may not realize that you are probably drinking too much.
After a certain point, caffeine actually reduces your focus. Experts suggest that 400 milligrams of caffeine is the upper limit. That is about four cups of coffee per day. If you are drinking more than this, cut back.
Additionally, if you ever feel jittery or “wired” from caffeine, you are definitely drinking too much. There are much better ways to stay awake.
Choose the Right Tunes
Turning on your favorite music while you drive can help you stay mentally active without distracting yourself from the road. Although podcasts and other forms of audio entertainment can be invigorating, they can also be distracting. However, your favorite music will energize you without taking your mind off the road.
Learn the Route Before You Leave
Getting lost is a good way to quickly wear yourself out. It is stressful and requires a lot of mental focus. Managing your energy is the key to stay focused and alert when driving.
So, learn your route before you set out. Ideally, program it into your navigation system to make finding your way even easier. You may think that you have a good enough sense of direction to not need this preparation. However, why should you do unnecessary work while driving? Prepare before leaving and make your trip easier.
Get Enough Exercise
Daily vigorous exercise is very good for your health can stop you from getting so worn out while driving. Make sure you get out of your cab for some solid exercise every day. This could be taking a walk, doing some pushups, going for a job or any other activity. The goal should be to elevate your heart rate for about 30 minutes a day.
Eat a Healthy Diet
It probably comes as no surprise that your diet has a big impact on your ability to focus. Anyone who has felt sluggish after a heavy, greasy meal is familiar with this. Try reaching for healthy foods that are high in protein and fiber. These are some good examples:
- Protein bats
- Whole grains
- Fruits and vegetables
Even when the schedule is tight, make time for a break. Research suggests that taking a break will make you feel more comfortable, relaxes and effective when driving. It is also a valuable opportunity for your mind to refocus.
Simply pulling over for a few minutes may be enough. It is also a good idea to stop and get out of your truck when you eat.
Have a Pre-Trip Ritual
As mentioned, having a nighttime ritual will help you sleep. Dong the same before you drive is also beneficial. When you do the same activities before driving, it lets your brain know that it is time to focus on the road.
You could do an inspection of your truck, get your seat in a comfortable position and put on your favorite driving jams. Whatever your ritual, practice it every time you are about to set out.
Use Hands-Free Tech
Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous situations on the road. It has been reported to be as dangerous are drinking and driving. Despite this, many motorists fiddle with the radio, watch videos and otherwise multitask while driving.
Focus only on driving whenever you can. If you need to make a call, change the music or update your navigation, either pull over or go hands-free whenever possible.
Again, managing your energy is one of the most important ways to stay focused while driving. So, one of the most surprising answers to the question of how to stay focused when driving is to keep calm.
Whenever you get angry or tense on the road, you are exhausting your body both physically and mentally. There will always be bad and inattentive drivers on the road. There will also be people who are disrespectful of your truck. Focus on staying safe but let things go once they are over. When you stay calm, focused and collected, you will be a safer and happier driver.