Nighttime driving is inevitable in the trucking industry. Truckers are at greater risk when they drive at night. Drivers cannot see hazards, and they have less time to respond. Drivers caught by surprise are more apt to crash. The problems of night driving involve a combination of driver, roadway, and vehicle factors. Here are ten tips for truckers who are driving at nighttime.
1.) Keep a Cool Cab
If your cab is 75-degrees, it will put you to sleep. Be proactive and keep the temperature down cool, depending on your preference. If you start shivering or your fingers get stiff, you have gone too far. If it is not enough, crack the windows. Let the icy air blasting over your head will wake you up fast.
2.) Be Mindful of What You Are Eating & Drinking
Just like after every holiday meal – big portions of rich, heavy food will make you sleepy. Break up the night with several small, healthy snacks that keep your blood sugar steady.
In addition, energy drinks and coffee can help you when they are used in moderation. If you chug the whole 40 ounces at once, you will experience an energy surge, followed by a deep crash. Instead, space it out over the night.
3.) Use High-Beams
Some drivers make the mistake of always using low-beams. This seriously cuts down on their ability to see ahead. Use high-beams when it is safe and legal to do so. Also, do not let the inside of your cab get too bright. This makes it harder to see outside. Keep the interior light off, and adjust your instrument lights as low as you can and still read the gauges.
4.) Avoid Blinding Others
Glare from your headlights can cause problems for drivers coming toward you. Headlights also can bother drivers going in the same direction as you, when your lights shine in their rearview mirrors. Dim your lights before they cause glare for other drivers. You should dim your lights within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle and when following another vehicle within 500 feet.
5.) If You Get Sleepy, You Need to Pull Over
Drivers often do not realize how close they are to falling asleep even when their eyelids are falling shut. If you can safely do so, look at yourself in a mirror. If you look sleepy, or you just feel sleepy, stop driving! You are in a very dangerous condition. The only safe cure is to sleep.
6.) Do Not Look Into the Light
Try not to look directly into the headlights of oncoming traffic. Truck drivers have a unique situation that puts them on the road longer than most other travelers and prolonged exposure to this type of glare can a temporary distortion of the retina and delay your reaction time. Some might say you can become a deer in the headlights.
Instead, keep your eyes moving or look down to the right to avoid direct contact with those beaming lights. As long as you can see the edge of your lane and the fine white line, your truck should be fine while your vision adjusts to the passing lights. Rested eyes can also help you deal with this issue.
7.) Keep a Clean Windshield and New Blades
A dirty windshield can limit a truck driver’s visibility. Dirt, insects and more can block your view and catch reflections where you do not want them. When you can, clean the outside of your windshield, but do not forget about the inside, too. Sneezes, dust, and dirt can build up over time, as well as make nighttime driving especially dangerous.
According to AAA, drivers should replace their wiper blades every three years, so do not wait until it’s too late. Change your windshield wiper blades regularly, and you will smear less dirt, grime, and gunk, and you will prevent last-minute vision loss due to splitting.
8.) Proper Rest Matters
A good night’s sleep is important for all of us but for truck drivers, the proper amount of rest is necessary for driver safety. It all begins with following laws and guidelines on rest, but there are a few ways to maximize the quality of each rest period.
Start with blocking out distractions like light and noise. A white noise machine or earplugs can help.
Keep your sleeping area or cab cool, and you will regulate sleep better. Consider a new mattress or pillows if you cannot quite get comfortable.
Before you go to sleep, put down the smartphone, computer, or electronic devices. Cut down on spicy foods, caffeine, liquids, and nicotine before bed. According to the CDC, these things are distracting and affect your body, preventing a rejuvenating sleep. A well-rested driver will be a better nighttime driver.
9.) Say No to Distracted Driving
You owe it to others any time of the day to refrain from distracted driving. Evenings are often a time for families to catch up with one another on the phone or via text. Many truck drivers check in with friends or loved ones on social media but do not give in to the temptation while on the road. Use your smartphone when you are on a break.
10.) Watch the Signs
It is important to watch the physical signs of sleepiness and fatigue but also watch the traffic signs. Are you missing exits, tailgating, and nodding your head or yawning excessively? Pay attention to these signs, and pull over when you need to.
Let us know of any nighttime driving tips for truckers. Stay safe out there!