Tips for Night Truck Driving
A lot of things with driving come down to personal preference. Whether that's how you prefer your seat positioning, what you're listening to on the radio, and the time you prefer to drive.
As truck drivers go, many prefer to drive at night because of the lack of other drivers on the road and others prefer driving during the daytime. Depending on your preference, and what your employer will allow, many if not all commercial drivers will find themselves driving at night at some point in their career. Understanding your driving and normal routine might change when switching from day to night driving will help you drive safer.
Driving the hours that work for you, and your company, is critical for your success. There are benefits to you as the driver for both daytime driving and night driving. Make the most out of these benefits by following the guidelines below!
Planning your route in advance should be a common practice for both day and night drivers, especially if you're traveling a new route. Planning ahead will make sure you're prepared for any construction or changes to the roadway. Also, pay attention to the weather in the areas you will be traveling and have a plan in case there are potential dangerous situations.
Be aware that most dispatchers and customers don't operate 24/7, so after hours assistance will be more difficult to come by if you get lost or run into problems. Keep essentials in your cab and make sure that you are prepared for issues that could arise.
Keep Headlights and Mirrors Clean
No matter how well you believe you can see at night, the fact is that humans don't have great night vision. The darkness weakens our depth perception, peripheral vision and lengths at which we can see, and all of these reduce your ability to see animals or obstructions on the road.
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Your headlights will be your first line of defense against dark driving conditions. Foggy or dirty headlights limit not only further your visibility but also dims your lights making it harder for other drivers to see you. If your mirrors are fogged up or dirty, this also lowers your ability to see approaching vehicles.
As traffic is approaching, try not to look directly at their vehicles, specifically the headlights, as this will further impair your vision. Look slightly down and to avoid the negative effects.
Watch For Other Drivers
As a truck driver, you’ve had to go through extensive training and more than likely have a lot of driving experience under your belt that often makes you a safe and smart driver. Unfortunately, most other drivers on the road have had a lot of experience but haven't had any training since they were 15-16 years old.
Do your best to maintain your safety and the safety of everyone transiting the roadway by following the rules of the road. Drive cautiously, dim your headlights as other drivers approach to help their visibility, and use your blinkers to communicate your intentions as you turn or pass others on the road.
Less People Out At Night
One of the greatest benefits to driving at night is the lack of people around, which almost always means less traffic. Traffic can still occur because of accidents or construction but it'll likely be much less than if it were to happen in the middle of the day. However, the few drivers on the road will be at a lower point of alertness so it is important that you maintain a safe following distance and drive defensively.
If you are making deliveries at night, take every precaution you can before exiting the cab. Unfortunately with fewer people around, you are more vulnerable to theft or even worse. If you are delivering to a new place, make sure you know exactly where you're going to best prepare yourself. Luckily, you will most likely not have to compete for parking or even dock early when you do get to your destination.
Make Sure You're Rested
Driving for long periods of time takes a toll on your body, especially when driving at night. Our bodies natural rhythm has us awake during the day then when the sun goes down we get tired and sleep until the sun comes up. For night drivers, they are working the opposite schedule, which it why it is so important to make sure that you are getting plenty of rest before the start of your shift or even schedule rest breaks into your route to ensure you're at your most alert while driving.
If you ever find yourself falling asleep or struggling to stay away while driving, pull over and rest immediately. Your safety and the safety of others is the biggest priority.
Stay Hydrated and Eat Proper Meals
Eating proper meals and staying hydrated will also help you be more alert and awake while driving. Rather than having a few big and heavy meals, that could make you feel groggy or tired, think about splitting up your meals into multiple smaller meals to keep you energized throughout your entire shift. Save the large meals for the end of your shift, if you prefer a large meal, and try and snack throughout the rest.
Remember, whether you are driving during the day or the night to always use caution when operating a commercial motor vehicle. There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to trucking, so do whatever works best for you and your company.
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