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