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How truckers stay safe - and sane - behind the wheel

With a bird's-eye view on the traffic around them, truck drivers have seen it all: irresponsible drivers checking their email, surfing the web, putting on makeup, reaching for items in the backseat and even falling asleep behind the wheel.

If truckers regularly took these kinds of risks, the fallout would be disastrous. An accident that's a mere fender-bender for a regular vehicle could easily be a fatal multicar pileup when a semitruck is involved.

As professional drivers, truckers are some of the safest on the road. So how do they avoid common temptations like cellphones and other distractions? How do they stay attentive and energized after many long hours behind the wheel?

Strategies for staying focused

Like any skill, attentive driving must be practiced. Experienced truckers know how to drive safely and responsibly because they've spent so long doing it. They avoid developing bad habits - and develop good ones instead. It's a lesson we all can learn.

Whenever you're facing a long drive - whether your daily commute or a weekend road trip - use these strategies to practice safe driving:

  • Get plenty of sleep: It sounds like a no-brainer, but far too many drivers stay behind the wheel long after they've crossed the line into drowsy driving. Avoid the temptation by getting enough sleep before you have to tackle a long drive.
  • Don't rely on sugar and caffeine: While they may provide a temporary fix for fatigue, these unhealthy solutions can cause you to crash a few hours later. What's more, they aren't sustainable for a healthy lifestyle over the long-term.
  • Eat healthy: A healthy diet - rich in protein, vitamins and nutrients - provides the long-lasting energy you need to stay focused. Reach for real veggies instead of Funyuns, and choose whole grains over simple, processed carbs like chips.
  • Pull over for power-naps: You probably don't have time for an hour-long snooze. However, research shows that even a brief rest can refresh your mind and body.
  • Take regular stretch breaks: Truck drivers are required to take certain breaks throughout their shifts - and for good reason. Walking, stretching and taking your eyes off the road can do wonders to restore your mind from the monotony of a long-haul drive.
  • Roll down the windows: Fresh air - and deep breaths - help deliver more oxygen to the brain, reinvigorating your attention span.
  • Say no to distractions: Put your cellphone out of reach. Stop to eat rather than eating behind the wheel. The safest drivers are those who don't give into the temptation for distraction.

By consistently following these tips, we can all become safer drivers, protecting our own lives and others on the road.

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