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What impact does a driver’s diet have on their driving?

Food is your fuel. You wouldn’t put poor-quality fuel in your vehicle and expect it to run properly. The same applies to your body. Your food choices affect your thinking, your reactions, your energy and your alertness. This applies whether you’re driving a dump truck at a quarry, a forklift in a warehouse, a semitrailer between cities or a bus on a metro route.

Diet education for drivers is crucial because it directly relates to safety and performance.

Low energy and sluggishness are caused by diets high in processed foods and refined sugars. This affects a driver’s ability to react quickly to hazards.

Obesity and weight gain are caused by diets high in refined sugars, plus minimal exercise. This can cause sleep apnoea which contributes to fatigue in drivers.

Overuse of stimulants is a slippery slope as a driver’s body becomes accustomed to a certain dose of the stimulant and then needs more and more to keep making the difference

The timing of meals and the quantity consumed impacts how the driver feels. We’ve all heard of a food coma, or we’ve felt sleepy after eating.

Lack of certain vitamins and minerals can cause issues with, for example, eyesight (vitamin A), and muscle cramps and tension (magnesium).

So, let’s have a look at real-world implications for drivers based on their dietary choices.


Overweight drivers tend to have less mobility and are at higher risk of injury in a crash due to them having more mass that needs to be contained by the seatbelt and airbags. There’s a higher likelihood of fractures, head trauma and internal organ damage.

Obese people are at higher risk of sleep apnoea, as mentioned above, plus diabetes and heart disease.


Type 2 diabetes, which can be caused by excessive sugar intake over a longer time period, can cause frequent urination which is an issue for drivers who drive long distances or operate machinery where it’s inconvenient to stop (e.g. tower crane operators).

It can cause dizziness, blurred vision and confusion if hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) occurs. Conversely, hyperglycemia can cause difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and irritability leading to poor decision-making.

Other complications of diabetes include tingling in the hands and feet that impairs control of the vehicle, and issues with eyesight which create challenging situations for the driver, especially in low light.

Dietary choices don’t need to be hard. Click on the course link above to find out how making the right diet decisions can improve your performance as a driver.

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Darren has written over 3000 articles about driving and vehicles, plus almost 500 vehicle reviews and numerous driving courses. Connect with him on LinkedIn by clicking the name above

Posted in Advice, Heavy Vehicle