The HDS Truck Driving Institute estimates that a combined fleet of over two million semi-trucks are on the road today. The engine alone for a semi can weigh up to 3,000 pounds, and they can tow up to 40 tons of cargo, and a single truck driver will typically travel about 45,000 miles every year.
These drivers can often drive over long distances as part of their job, and as people travel to visit family and friends, they may drive long distances as well. As more and more people are driving throughout the country, it is important to always keep safety in mind.
Ways to Stay Safe Over Long Distances
It is incredibly important to understand how driving long distances affects a person, whether you’re traveling for personal reasons, or if you are hauling freight.
1. Plan Ahead
Truck drivers often have access to software that will help them plan their trips. To the same end, with recreational drives you should think about how much you can legitimately drive each day, and plan stops along the way to keep from getting fatigued.
Always check your route ahead of time to look for detours and to make sure there are plenty of places to take a break, get gas, and go to the restroom.
2. Share the Drive
Team drivers are common in trucking jobs that require goods to be transported over distances. If you’re taking on a considerably long drive, you should consider having a loved one help you take on the road.
You can share the navigational and driving duties, meaning you won’t get as tired, which will keep you safe. There is also the added benefit that an additional person in the car can make for a great companion.
3. Dress Comfortably
You should always plan for comfort on a long trip. Think about a pillow to put behind your back for extra support, and make sure you have comfortable shoes.
4. Adjust Your Seat
It is vital that you sit in a good position while behind the wheel. When you become sore, this indicates that you need to move around and stretch.
You should also make sure to adjust your mirrors, to make it easy to see what’s around you. You don’t want to sit too close or too far from the steering wheel and foot pedals.
5. Make Sure to Have Water, Snacks, and Gum
Keeping water and snacks in the car can prevent you from running out of energy at an inopportune time. Pack some healthy snacks that will provide you with fuel, such as crisp apples or pears, protein bars, beef jerky, carrots or almonds.
In addition to keeping your hunger levels contained, and providing a healthy supply of energy, the action of chewing stimulates energy, helping you stay alert. You will also want to stay hydrated on the trip, so pack a cooler with healthy drinks.
6. Get Fresh Air
You should be sure to open the window occasionally to help wake up your brain. Even though your car has AC, the fresh air will help make you more alert. If it’s too hot or cold to open the windows very often, be prepared to have a different scent available through a perfume or air freshener, which can make you feel rejuvenated.
7. Pay Attention to the Rules of the Road
One of the most obvious things that you need to be doing, is to always pay attention to the rules of the road. Be aware as to what all signage is indicating, from speed limit changes to signage indicating route conditions. You will also want to take special care in construction zones, or other areas of more hazardous road conditions.
Is Long Distance Driving More Dangerous?
Long distance driving does have more risks associated with it. Drivers who are on the road longer can get tired, which increases their chances of being in an accident. Additionally, sitting for hours is not good for your circulation and can affect your overall health.
How Far is Safe to Drive in a Single Day?
Experts currently recommend only traveling up to 500 miles in a day. In terms of overall drive time, most people shouldn’t drive for more than eight hours in one day. Additionally, you should be sure to take a break every 2 hours for at least 15 minutes, in order to avoid long stretches of continuous driving.
How Often Should I Take a Break?
The 2-hour driving limit with 15-minute breaks is a rough guideline. If you are behind the wheel at night, you may need to stop more frequently, as your body is used to a certain rhythm and thinks it should be asleep, which can make you more fatigued.
Road Signs for Safety
Summer travel plans may currently be up in the air due to coronavirus, but you can still expect people to be travelling by car. As such, long-distance drivers will need signs that provide accurate and easy to understand information as they travel through your state.