On the Road After Dark: Safe-Driving Tips for Truckers


With the sun setting comes additional risks for truckers driving at night. Visibility is reduced, making it more challenging to see the road, other vehicles, and obstacles. Depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision can all be compromised in the dark. The glare of headlights from an oncoming vehicle can also temporarily blind a driver. In addition, as we age, we have greater difficulty seeing at night. A 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old.

Asleep at the Wheel

Fatigue is another risk that could impair a driver’s performance at night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of adults have driven while tired, and another 37% have fallen asleep at the wheel. Of those, 13% say they fall asleep while driving at least once a month, and 4% say they have caused a crash by falling asleep while driving. The reasons are many – shift work, lack of quality sleep, long work hours, and sleep disorders. Tired drivers may have slower reaction times, impaired judgment, and difficulty staying awake behind the wheel.

Weather Conditions, Road Construction

Nighttime can bring weather conditions that necessitate caution and patience behind the wheel. When temperatures fluctuate, particularly in the winter, you are more likely to encounter ice, fog, and invisible potholes. This can result in dangerous driving conditions with reduced visibility. When wet and windy, there is a higher risk of flooding, debris, and fallen trees on the road, and it is more difficult to see from a distance.

Road maintenance and construction frequently occur at night, when the roads are less traveled. A road closure can cause drivers stress and anxiety, especially if they don’t know another route.

Wildlife, Impaired Driving, and Speeding

In rural areas, you have an increased risk of wildlife on the road at night, which is difficult to see and avoid. More impaired drivers are out at night after an evening with friends at a restaurant or bar. This increases the risk of accidents for truck drivers who share the road with them. In addition, fewer people are on the road at night, so it’s tempting for drivers to increase their speed, which significantly increases the risk from the aforementioned elements.

Driver Preparedness

A well-informed road user is a safer one. Truckers should be aware of potential hazards to be well-prepared and make modifications as needed.

  • Consider your planned route and probable road hazards, and be prepared to change your driving style.
  • Maintain attention by minimizing driver fatigue, scheduling rest stops, and avoiding all driver distractions, including the use of mobile phones. Adjust your sleep schedule to remain awake and alert during your night driving shift.
  • Take a break every few hours to get out, walk around, and get some fresh air. This will help you remain alert while also preventing leg cramps and a condition known as road hypnosis.
  • Remain hydrated to help stay alert – drink plenty of water.
  • Be aware of other drivers and use your low beams if there is oncoming traffic or you are following another car. Use high beams and fog lights when safe and appropriate.
  • Avoid wearing tinted sunglasses at night, but they might be helpful during twilight and dawn while the sun is still out.
  • Allow time for your eyes to adjust from day to night. The human eye naturally adjusts to darkness, but it might take up to 30 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust, so drivers should limit their speed during this transition period.
  • Be aware of visual changes. Our vision naturally changes with age, affecting visibility in low-light settings like twilight and morning.
  • Get frequent eye exams for problems such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma.
  • Make sure your windshield, side windows, and mirrors are clean.
  • Ensure your lights are working and clean for maximum visibility.
  • Always obey traffic laws and regulations and stick to routes designated for commercial vehicles.
  • Maintain an appropriate speed and distance from other cars.
  • Maintain your lane and watch for pedestrians, wildlife, and debris on the road, which may be difficult to see with reduced visibility.
  • Dimming your dash lights and setting your GPS to night mode will help improve your night vision.
  • Use technology such as dashcams, blind-spot monitors and mirrors, lane departure warnings, and safe-braking systems to improve your awareness and response times.
  • To improve your night vision, avoid looking straight at oncoming traffic’s headlights.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

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