Essential Tips for Truck Driving at Night

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Truck drivers drive at night in order to manage pick up and delivery schedules, delays due to traffic or mechanical problems, and or their own  preferences. Driving at night has its advantages, disadvantages, and specific safety considerations. Furthermore, many warehousing and production facilities operate 24 hours a day and to accommodate their needs and to prevent supply chain bottlenecks, the trucking industry mirrors the operating schedules of the industries it serves. 

If trucks only operated during daylight hours, it would ultimately lead to congested highway traffic and significant backups at shipping terminals. Plus, due to limited parking, not every truck driver would be able to find a safe place to sleep for the night

When driving trucks at night, it is important to understand the safety considerations and what you can do to have a better and safer night shift. 

Although driving at night is considered more complex and dangerous than driving during the day, according to FMCSA fatality crash statistics, more crashes occur during the day time – likely due to a higher volume of traffic on the roadways during the day time. While the numbers may persuade some to conclude that night-time truck driving is safer, that may not be the case. Therefore, in this article, we will explore the extra safety precautions and concerns associated with night driving, including preparation for night driving, safety tips for night driving, and how to stay awake and alert while driving at night.

Preparing for Night Time Truck Driving

In this section, we will look at how to prepare for a long drive at night. Driving a truck at night requires the same basic procedures as driving at another other time of day. Pre-trip inspections must be done when you start a trip, regardless of the time of day. The truck must be in safe operating condition both mechanically and electrically. In other words, the same safety concerns you have for a daytime trip apply to nighttime trips too. 

However, there are some night-time specific preparations you need to be aware of and practice to stay safe. 

  • Every person has what is called a circadian rhythm, or sleep cycle. In other words, you will naturally feel more tired according to your usual sleep patterns. To avoid problems with fatigue, adjust your sleep schedule so that you can remain awake and alert during your night driving shift.
  • The more we eat, the sleepier we get. So, when driving at night, eat light and healthy meals low in carbohydrates and sugars and high in protein to avoid a “sugar crash.”
  • If you wear corrective lenses, make sure they are clean; and have anti-glare protection.
  • Make sure your windshield, side windows, and mirrors are clean.
  • Make sure all your lights are working and clean for maximum visibility.
  • Study your route ahead of time and be aware of any construction zones or detours along the way.

Preparing for night-time driving will help to reduce your stress and fatigue levels while giving you the tools you need for a safe and uneventful night shift. 

Safety Tips for Truck Driving at Night

Once you’re prepared to hit the road at night, there are additional tips for night truck driving that can help you have a safe trip.

  • Always follow traffic laws and regulations and stick to routes approved for commercial vehicles.
  • Maintain a safe speed and distance from other vehicles.
  • Use high beams and fog lights when it is safe and appropriate to do so.
  • Maintain your lane and watch for pedestrians, wildlife, and debris on the roadway, which may be harder to spot with decreased visibility. 
  • Avoid distractions such as mobile phones.
  • Dimming your dash lights and operating your GPS on night mode will help improve your night vision.
  • Use technology such as dashcams, blindspot monitors and mirrors, lane departure warnings, and safe braking systems to help you with awareness and reaction times. 
  • Avoid looking directly at the headlights of oncoming traffic to better protect your night vision.
  • If at any time you begin to feel tired, find a safe place to park and take a nap. 

By following these tips you’ll have a safer and more enjoyable night-time driving experience. 

The most important factor for safe night driving is getting enough rest and using common sense to avoid dangerous situations. It never pays to drive tired and nothing makes night driving more dangerous to you and other motorists than driving tired. Don’t do it. 

Tricks to Stay Awake and Alert While Driving

The most important and challenging part of driving at night is staying awake. Truck drivers have been operating at night for decades, so how do truckers stay awake? In this section, we’ll provide you with some valuable, time-tested tips for remaining awake and alert, while driving at night.

  • Take a break every few hours to get out, walk around, and get some fresh air. This will help you with remaining alert while also preventing leg cramps and preventing a condition known as road hypnosis. 
  • Remaining hydrated will help you to remain awake and alert, so drink plenty of water. Avoid drinks with sugar and caffeine because although they may give you an initial boost, they will also make your body crash faster and make sleeping more difficult at the end of your shift.
  • Listen to music, audiobooks, or podcasts to keep your mind active.
  • Open your windows or turn on your air conditioning for cool refreshing air.
  • Avoid heavy meals and any medications that induce drowsiness. 
  • If you start feeling tired, it is time to stop and take a nap. There is no way around this. Plan naps into your driving schedule. so that you get the rest you need while making your deliveries on time. 

Again, the most important part of night-time truck driving is staying awake and alert. Failure to do so can be extremely dangerous. 

Operating safely at night is a combination of preparation, paying attention, and staying awake. Always make sure your truck is 100% safe to operate before you start your trip, take good care of your body, eat well, drink plenty of water, get plenty of rest, and exercise. Take frequent breaks and if you start to feel tired, it is time to stop driving. 

Most of all, remember that staying awake and alert is the key to staying safe. No load is worth your life or the life of somebody else. Make good decisions to avoid dangerous accidents. Your safety and your well-being are more important than anything else in the world. Your company’s bottom line, your customers, and even your paycheck are all secondary to your safety. If your company has a problem with you looking out for your safety and the safety of others, it may be time to explore new options.

If you’re looking for a company to work with where you have 100% control over your schedule and safety optimization, come join us at CloudTrucks today.

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