The Commercial Drivers License (CDL)
 

 

The Commercial Drivers License

STAYING ALERT AND FIT TO DRIVE

Driving a vehicle for long hours is tiring. Even the best of drivers will become less alert. However, there are things that good drivers do to help stay alert and safe. Here are a few suggestions:

Be Ready To Drive

Get enough sleep. Leaving on a long trip when you’re already tired is dangerous. If you have a long trip scheduled, make sure that you get a good sleep before you go. Most people require 7-8 hours of sleep every 24 hours. Schedule trips safely. Your body gets used to sleeping during certain hours. If you are driving during those hours, you will be less alert. If possible, try to schedule trips for the hours you are normally awake. Many heavy motor vehicle accidents occur between midnight and 6 a.m. Tired drivers can easily fall asleep at these times, especially if they don’t regularly drive at those hours. Trying to push on and finish a long trip at these times can be very dangerous.

Avoid medication. Many medicines can make you sleepy. Those that do have a label warning against operating vehicles or machinery. The most common medicine of this type is an ordinary cold pill. If you have to drive with a cold, you are better off suffering from the cold than from the effects of the medicine.

Keep cool. A hot, poorly ventilated cab can make you sleepy. Keep the window or vent cracked or use the air conditioner.

Take breaks. Short breaks can keep you alert, but the time to take them is before you feel really drowsy or tired.

Stop often. Walk around and inspect your vehicle. It may help to do some physical exercises.

When You Do Become Sleepy When you are sleepy, trying to “push on” is far more dangerous than most drivers think. It is a major cause of fatal accidents. Here are some important rules to follow

• Stop to sleep. When your body needs sleep, sleep is the only thing that will work. If you have to make a stop anyway, make it whenever you feel the first signs of sleepiness, even if it is earlier than you planned. By getting up a little earlier the next day, you can keep on schedule without the danger of driving while you are not alert.

• Take a nap. If you can’t stop for the night, at least pull off the road and take a nap. A nap as short as a half-hour will do more to overcome fatigue than a half-hour coffee stop.

• Avoid drugs. There are no drugs that can overcome being tired.

While they may keep you awake for a while, they won’t make you alert. And eventually, you’ll be even more tired than if you hadn’t taken them at all. Sleep is the only thing that can overcome fatigue.

Alcohol and Driving

Drinking alcohol and then driving is a very serious problem. People who drink alcohol are involved in traffic accidents resulting in over 20,000 deaths every year. You should know:

• How alcohol works in the human body.

• How it affects driving.

• Laws regarding drinking and driving.

• Legal, financial, and safety risks of drinking and driving.

The Truth About Alcohol.

There are many dangerous ideas about the use of alcohol. The driver who believes in these wrong ideas will be more likely to get into trouble.

What is a Drink? It is the alcohol in drinks that affects human performance. It doesn’t make any difference whether that alcohol comes from “a couple of beers” or from two glasses of wine or two shots of hard liquor. All of the following drinks contain the same amount of alcohol:

• A 12 ounce glass of 5% beer

• A 5 ounce glass of 12% wine

• A 1 1/2 ounce shot of 80 proof liquor

How alcohol works. Alcohol goes directly from the stomach into the blood stream. A drinker can control the amount of alcohol which he or she takes in, by having fewer drinks or none. However, the drinker cannot control how fast the body gets rid of alcohol. If you have drinks faster than the body can get rid of them, you will have more alcohol in your body and your driving will be more affected.

The amount of alcohol in your body is commonly measured by the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).

What Determines Blood Alcohol Concentration. BAC is determined by

the amount of alcohol you drink (more alcohol means higher BAC), how fast you drink (faster drinking means higher BAC), and

your weight (a small person doesn’t have to drink as much to reach the same BAC).

Alcohol and the Brain. Alcohol affects more and more of the brain as BAC builds up.

The first part of the brain affected controls judgement and self control. One of the bad things about this is it can keep drinkers from knowing they are getting drunk. And of course, good judgement and self control are absolutely necessary for safe driving. As blood alcohol concentration continues to build up, muscle control, vision, and coordination are affected more and more. Eventually, you will pass out.

How Alcohol Affects Driving. All drivers are affected by drinking alcohol. Alcohol affects judgement, vision, coordination, and reaction time.

It causes serious driving errors, such as:

• Increased reaction time to hazards

• Driving too fast or too slow.

• Driving in the wrong lane.

• Running over the curb.

• Weaving.

• Straddling lanes.

• Quick, jerky starts.

• Not signaling, failure to use lights.

• Running stop signs and red lights.

• Improper passing.

These effects mean increased chances of an accident and chances of losing your driver’s license. Accident statistics show that the chance of a collision is much greater for drivers who have been drinking than for drivers who were not.

Other Drugs

Besides alcohol, other legal and illegal drugs are being used more often. Laws prohibit possession or use of many drugs while on duty. They prohibit being under the influence of any “controlled substance”; an amphetamine (including “pep pills” and “bennies”); narcotics or any other substance which can make you an unsafe driver. This could include a variety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs (cold medicines) which may make you drowsy or otherwise affect safe driving ability. However, possession and use of a drug given to you by a doctor is permitted if the doctor informs you that it will not affect safe driving ability.

Pay attention to warning labels of legitimate drugs and medicines and to doctor’s orders regarding possible effects. Stay away from illegal drugs. Don’t use any drug that hides fatigue - the only cure for fatigue is rest.

Alcohol can make the effects of other drugs much worse. The safest rule is don’t mix drugs with driving at all. Use of drugs can lead to traffic accidents resulting in death, injury and property damage. Furthermore, it can lead to arrest, fines, and jail sentences. It can also mean the end of your driving career.

Illness

Once in a while, you may become so ill that you cannot operate a motor vehicle safely. If this happens to you, you must not drive. However, in case of an emergency you may drive to the nearest place where you can safely stop.

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This site is meant to enhance your learning of the Rules of the Road and is not intended to replace the Drivers Manual supplied by the Motor Vehicle Department of your State. Send mail to web master with questions or comments about this web site.

Copyright © 1998 GoLocalnet Last modified: July 1, 2000