The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration advised that truck drivers need to remain alert on the roads by minimizing distractions and ensuring they have adequate rest before starting their day's assignment. They should remember that driving and texting is illegal when operating a commercial motor vehicle. Drivers are also advised to take breaks when the time comes to eat to stay safe on the road. Despite the many guidelines, truckers can become fatigued and potentially distracted if they have been on the road for a long period of time, or if they are racing to meet an important delivery deadline. As such, many truck drivers are at risk from falling asleep at the wheel.
Drivers can imbibe caffeine, listen to music or the radio, or chat with family or friends via a hands-free device to stay awake, but sometimes this isn't enough. If a trucker is severely sleep-deprived, it can slow their reaction times, which can lead to trouble focusing. Since truckers are in their cab alone, they may not notice the physical symptoms, such as a nodding head, drooping eyelids and lack of coordination, and so they cannot be alerted to their condition. To help prevent sleep-related accidents and other complications, Ford has created a baseball cap that can tell if a driver is safe and awake or at risk of nodding off.
Enter the SafeCap
According to Fast Company, the SafeCap has been designed to alert truckers to some of the physical signs of sleepiness. In a project with the Brazilian-based agency, GTB, Ford has been working on a baseball-style cap that has sensors embedded inside. The team researched the kind of head movements that are associated with starting to snooze, and the software can tell the difference between those and regular nodding and turning. The cap has a gyroscope inside that tracks the wearer's motion and if he or she starts to fall asleep, it will alert the driver and wake up the individual. The source said this is done with light, vibration and sound.
Good sleep is essential for truckers
Everyone should try and get enough rest to feel well and alert during the day, but this is doubly important for truck drivers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered tips on how truckers can improve their sleep quality. They can invest in earplugs, an eye mask and a white noise machine to block out sound and light, which can be difficult when resting off the road. It is wise to aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep if possible to feel well-rested before starting out the next day and if there are problems with comfort, it might be time to invest in a new mattress and pillow.
To fall asleep more easily, avoid heavy or spicy meals between 2 and 3 hours before bedtime. Skip the late afternoon caffeine if possible, the source noted, as well as nicotine or other stimulants. About an hour before bedtime, start your nighttime routine, which can let the brain know that your mind and body are preparing for rest. Finally, communicate with dispatchers and friends and family the times at which you will be asleep to have a better chance of uninterrupted rest. You want to be your best on the road and, most importantly, to arrive at your destination safely and in a timely fashion.
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