As a truck driver you are well aware that a sleep cycle doesn’t exactly exist in its general definition. The sleeping patterns as a driver, especially if you are an over the road driver, lack any normal bedtime or standard amount of sleep time—in fact, there really is no pattern at all! Recent studies show that any type of break from driving, when assigned long hours, significantly reduces the risks of traffic faults.
Driver fatigue is a serious issue when operating a truck for extended hours. It can cause loss of concentration or cause the driver to fall asleep behind the wheel, resulting in serious crashes. As a driver of heavy commercial vehicles, you hold a lot of responsibilities and must be aware at all times in order to drive with your utmost safety potential.
Rules and Regulations for Interstate Driver’s Hours of Service
Within the past year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has revised and updated their regulations on the amount of time drivers must be off duty while on the road. These new regulations place a cap on when and how long you are allowed to drive, optimizing your safety and that of others on the road.
If you’re an over the road driver and have a 14-consecutive-hour driving period, you are only permitted to drive for up to 11 of those hours.
New revisions, in the FMCSA’s regulations state that after June 30, 2013, driving is not permitted if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes. After you have driven a total of 11 hours, you have reached the driving limit and must be off duty for another 10 consecutive hours.
Some rules and regulations vary depending on the type of truck you are operating. To gain more insight and view information on the recently updated regulations and limits, check out the FMCSA’s Interstate Truck Driver’s Guide to Hours of Service.
Off Duty Doesn’t Equal Sleep
The required off duty time doesn’t mean you have to go to sleep, it’s just the allotted amount of time you need away from behind the wheel. There are a lot of options you can utilize when you are off duty, if you don’t need to spend the full time sleeping. Here are some alternatives to sleeping:
- Go on a mini adventure! If you’re delivering to a place you’ve never been before, take the time to go explore! Enjoy your surroundings and go site seeing, it’ll get your blood pumping and give you some time away from the driver seat.
- Eat something! Go to a nearby restaurant or cook a meal for yourself. In order to keep on truckin’ you need fuel just as much as your truck does!
- Clean up! Depending on how long you’ve been on the road, you may want to clean yourself up a bit and take a shower.
- Play games! If you have a TV and your gaming device with you, plug it in and relive your childhood for a little bit. You could also watch a movie.
Sleep Patterns Are Overrated
Student drivers, if you are about to enter the industry just make sure you are prepared to sleep at any time of any day or night. It may take a couple times on the road to get used to sleeping some days at noon, and others at midnight, but the rules and regulations are set in place to secure the safety of everyone on the road, you included! As the common saying goes drive when you have to, sleep when you can. Familiarize yourself with the new guidelines in order to avoid any confusion and hazards! Safe trucking is happy trucking!