For truckies one of the worst aspects of the job can be staying awake and alert during night shifts. In addition to struggling with staying awake, research shows that that there are significant health and safety issues associated with shift work.
Because so many truck drivers will have to at some time in their career work night shifts, it is important to learn how to not only get through these shifts but do so healthily and safely.
An important consideration when night shift work is required is an effective and fair work roster. There has been a number of negative health effects associated with shift work which is why employers, management and those responsible for drawing up rosters take account of all the factors.
Factors that should have an influence on the roster include sufficient rest periods (in number and length), circadian rhythms and people’s social and mental needs.
The worst case scenario would be falling asleep at the wheel, either having a microsleep or falling asleep for a longer period of time, resulting in a crash. Remember that driving while tired is as bad as driving drunk and science has proven the effects are the same.
I recently came across an article from a female truckie whose blog aims to give other truckies advice on issues such as getting through the night shift. The following excerpt taken from her blog explains how to adjust to a night shift:
– Taking a nap
– Taking a shower, brushing teeth, eating cereal (habits ingrained into the majority of us for starting the day. It fools the mind into thinking it’s morning)
– Stopping and doing some brief exercise
– Radio or XM Radio (keeps the mind busy)
– Opening the window and getting a blast of cold air
– Turning down the temperature in the vehicle (cold temps tend to keep people awake)
– Singing, writing poems
– Get a pet. They’ll hang out with you and make you laugh.
She also suggests preparing for a night shift by staying up the night before hand while not driving just to get the body accustomed to being awake during this time.
Truckies should also avoid taking medication when driving night shifts because this tends to make a person even more sleepy than they would ordinarily be.
It is also important to plan your journey beforehand and plan where and when you are going to stop to rest. Also always stop if you begin to feel tired. Don’t stop on the shoulder of the road, rather take the nearest exit and find a safe place to stop, rest, get some exercise etc.
Although it can take some getting used to, night shift is appealing to many workers and even drivers. Don’t think of it as all bad, a negative mind set about night time driving will make the experience even more unpleasant and cause you to become stressed and mentally affected. Here are some of the reasons why driving night shifts aren’t that bad
-There is less traffic at night.
– It is more peaceful.
– It is easier to stop
– Quicker to fuel, eat, use the restroom, etc.
– It’s easier to pull on the side of the road to take a break and do some exercise.