As a truck driver, safety should always be your priority. One essential way to stay safe on the road is to ensure that you are always focused. Over-the-road (OTR) drivers spend long stretches of time behind the wheel, and this can increase the risk of becoming distracted unless you are careful.
Here are some tips for maintaining your focus when driving OTR:
1. Minimize Distractions
Anything that takes your mind off the task of driving, your hands off the wheel, or your eyes off the road is a form of distracted driving. Many distractions do all of these at once. To help you stay focused, it’s important to minimize all types of distractions while you’re behind the wheel.
You should be aware of the dangers of texting and driving, but as a refresher, this is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving. Never text and drive as a commercial driver, or while driving any type of vehicle. It’s not worth the risk.
In addition, here are some other distractions to avoid:
- Eating or drinking
- Talking on the phone (even hands-free)
- Adjusting your radio or air conditioner
One distraction that varies depending on the driver is what you listen to. Some drivers are able to listen to podcasts or audiobooks without losing focus on the road, whereas others get distracted by spoken audio. Use your discretion. If you think something is distracting you, it probably is.
2. Ask “What If” Questions
One of the major principles of defensive driving is thinking ahead and being prepared to react to any sudden changes on the road. To help you do this, try asking yourself “what if” questions related to what is going on while you’re driving. For example, if there is a car in the lane next to you, ask yourself what you would do if that car were to suddenly try to merge. These scenarios give your mind something productive to do while driving so you can stay focused while also improving your defensive driving skills.
3. Take Breaks When You Need Them
If you find yourself unable to stay focused on the road, stop and take a break. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires certain breaks, but even beyond this, you can stop if you feel it will help you. It’s better to spend a bit of time not driving so you are able to focus more effectively in the long run versus trying to power through. Even ten minutes to take a nap, get a snack, or call a loved one back home can help you refocus for the rest of your drive.
4. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Staying healthy can make a huge difference in your ability to stay focused. Although it can take some extra planning to make health a priority when you’re an OTR trucker, it’s well worth the effort in more ways than one.
Here are some health-related tips to improve your focus:
Sleep is essential to your health and fatigue presents a major risk for drivers. It’s hard to stay focused on the road when you’re tired. Maintain a regular sleep schedule to the best of your ability and stop for a nap if you are getting too tired.
Unhealthy meals can reduce your energy and your ability to focus. A healthy diet keeps you more alert, along with many other benefits.
Finding time to exercise on the road doesn’t have to be a challenge. Even a short run at a truck stop can help keep your heart healthy, and it can also improve your focus and overall energy levels.
Interested in a Trucking Career?
At Phoenix Truck Driving School, we help students become safe and successful truckers. Our program allows you to earn your license in as little as four weeks and we offer job placement assistance.