BLOG

Helpful Tips in Addition to CDL practice test: How to Stay Awake While Driving

APR 27, 2017

The task of staying awake while driving long distances is particular challenging for commercial drivers, especially long-haul drivers, who often drive at night and don’t have proper rest during the haul. Reading the driver’s handbook before your CDL practice test, you can find out the dramatic statistics on fall-asleep accidents in your state or across the U.S.

For example, the California CDL Handbook cites NHTSA reports telling about 100,000 fall-asleep accidents annually. According to NHTSA, 15% of all heavy trucks accidents are caused by fatigue, while more than half of fatal casualties among long-haul drivers involve drowsy driving. The statistics are especially telling for those drivers, who are going to pass the CDL HazMat practice test, since accidents with hazardous materials may lead to more global and dramatic effects.

That’s why some handbooks for CDL permit practice test include specific sections discussing reasons of fatigue and lack of alertness, as well as give recommendations on preventing drowsiness and maintaining alertness while driving. And if you bother to take any free CDL practice test, you may stumble across similar questions, which you need to answer correctly to pass the exam. So, let’s find out more about these tips that can help you in your future work.

 

Tips on Staying Awake from the Handbooks for CDL Practice Exam

 

Have a passenger to talk to

The best way to avoid falling asleep while driving is to have another driver for taking turns. But if this option is not available for you, you may take a passenger and talk to him/her while driving to prevent drowsiness. A good discussion stimulates the brain to work, keeping you awake, but make sure that the conversation doesn’t distract you from controlling traffic situation. Talking to a passenger is also useful in preventing drowsiness because the passenger can notice your fatigue, slow responses and answers off the mark. Besides, by keeping the conversation alive, you prevent the passenger from falling asleep, and so he/she won’t be able to make you feel sleepy either. But if your passenger begins to snooze, you’d better stop and have a rest.

 

Drink coffee

Coffee, hot chocolate, and other caffeinated drinks have an invigorating effect and allow retaining alertness for some time. If you are thick and tired of coffee, you can replace it with non-alcoholic beverages with natural stimulants like ginseng, magnolia-vine or eleuthero coccus. The soft drinks "work" no more than 2 hours and it is not recommended to drink too much of them. The same is true for energy drinks that contain caffeine and various additives, for example, guarana extract, taurine, vitamins, and acids. Though the handbooks for Commercial Drivers License Practice Test bypass the question, many long-haul drivers prefer energy drinks as an option instead of coffee. Compared with natural adaptogens, they start to act faster and have a longer effect, but it is not recommended to use more than three drinks a day, and it is better to check the effect before your trip, since they may cause a quite sudden personal response. 

 

Eating right

Many truck drivers take crackers, sunflower seeds, nuts, candies and other snacks to eat while driving. It makes sense as you can switch off from the monotony of long distance driving, while additional tasks make your brain to work more actively. The most important thing is to avoid overeating since a sense of fullness can lead to drowsiness. This is the reason to avoid heavy food before your trip – give preference to light food containing vitamins and other healthy nutrients.

 

Make changes

Any changes in your physical condition can help in staying awake while driving. In fact, there are quite a lot of things you can do behind-the-wheel. For example, you can do some physical exercises like tensing and relaxing the various muscle of your body. You can shake your head or rub your ears or sprinkle your face with cold water or wipe it with a damp cloth. The handbooks recommend changing temperature in the vehicle making it colder by adjusting the climate system or by opening the window since fresh air also contributes to awakening. To avoid sandy-gritty sensation, you can use special eye drops. Any reasonable changes in your physical condition can give a desirable wake-up effect, but make sure they don’t distract you from driving.

 

Take breaks

We are certain you take some breaks while passing our CDL practice exam for free since it is very difficult to stay focused for a long time. Do the same when driving long distances – get into the habit of stopping every two or three hours for a short break. You can use this time to take a nap or to have a bite, to make eyeballs massage or to wash your face with cold water.

 

Listen to music

If there is no possibility to talk to somebody else, turn on your favorite radio and listen to the music. The best way to stay awake is to sing along, the louder, the better. The fact is that loud singing makes your lungs to work more actively and more oxygen comes into the blood waking your body up. Besides, trying to recall words and to sing in time, you stimulate brain activity. As an option, you can listen to audiobooks or some audio lessons, but make sure that the choice is really interesting and non-monotonous. 

 

Focus your attention

If you feel sleepy, try to stay focused by employing mental gymnastics exercises. Sit up in the driver’s seat and check the correct position of the hands on the steering wheel ("quarter to three" hands position). Then try to perceive traffic information, focusing on any changes consciously. What is the color of jacket this man on a roadside wears? What is the make of this oncoming car? Put a variety of tasks like identifying or counting something, but don’t try to focus on objects like "running away" road markings, since this can make you feel sleepy.

 

Use electronic devices

Some vehicles equipped with modern electronic systems, which can warn a driver about his/her fatigue based on changes in a driving manner indicated by special sensors. There is a warning system for lane changing, which produces loud sounds in case the vehicle changes its lane without using the turn signal. If it's not possible to equip your vehicle with one of these systems, you can buy a device warning about driver’s fatigue. It resembles a Bluetooth headset and read driver’s head movements – if you start to nod off, the device produces sharp sounds to wake you up.

Read our useful articles and get prepared to your CDL Hazardous Materials Practice Test – this will help you pass the exam on the first try and avoid dangerous situations on the road.