For many truck drivers, night time is the magic hour, where commuter traffic has gone away and the rumble of the road sounds it’s sweetest. But these can also be dangerous hours, as darkness and glare from oncoming traffic create hazards not present during day light. Taking a few moments to resettle your thinking when driving at night, as well as being conscious of the added dangers, can help keep you on the road and delivering that load safely and on time.
Start with the inspection
For night drivers, it all comes down to the windshield and the lights. Every chance you get, clean the windshield of any road grime as it can magnify the glare of oncoming traffic and increase the dangers of not seeing a hazard in the road. Inspect all your lights to ensure they’re functioning, and repair any lens cracks before they become a bigger problem.
Though you don’t need to do it often, make sure your headlights are properly centered and aimed – if you’re not seeing where you’re going, you know you will miss something. This could be a deer or a sharp turn. Either way be sure to check your lamps when you can.
Night driving tips
A great many truck driver accidents occur at night due to a loss of attention, so combat road fatigue by using your radio and keeping your window down for fresh air. The more aware you are during a drive the less likely you’ll slip into hypnosis-mode. Take your rest stops serious and catch up on sleep- you’ll still drop your load on time, and will do it in one piece.
When facing oncoming traffic, avoid looking directly at oncoming headlights and overheads. These bright lights strain the eyes and cause temporary distortion of the retina – time you might need to swerve out of the way of a wandering armadillo. Also, be courteous to the other drivers by avoiding your high beams as much as possible. When passing, keep this rule in mind as high beams in a rear view mirror obstruct nearly 90% of a driver’s field of vision.
Plan your night driving time with a good amount of rest stops along the way. They needn’t be for long, but a five or ten minute break where you can get out of the cab, walk a few laps around your rig and stretch will do you a world of good. At the same time, stop multi-tasking while behind the wheel. These little distractions can mean big accidents if you’re not careful. Invest in a hands-free set up, and keep both hands on the wheel just like your truck driver instructor taught you.