Truck driving at night has its pros and cons. For many truckers, nighttime is the best time to drive. In most locations, this means no cars on the road, less roadwork and beautiful views. That said, truck driving at night can be dangerous. Half of all traffic accidents occur in the evening and night hours. Those accidents are typically the result of one main factor: fatigue. According to several studies, drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, and comes with many of the same side effects, including confusion, hallucinations, muscle weakness, impaired decision making and slow reaction times.
Drowsy driving is a top cause of trucking accidents, which is why the federal government stepped in and created truck driving regulations that all drivers—whether self-employed or employed, and throughout all states—must abide by. A few of those regulations dictate how many hours a trucker is permitted to drive in any given workday and workweek, and how often a trucker must stop to rest. However, none of those regulations dictate during which hours a trucker must haul his or her cargo.
How Long Can Truckers Drive Before Taking a Break?
Of course, fatigue isn’t the only cause of night time accidents. Other factors that may lead to accidents at night include:
- Reduced vision
- Drunk drivers
- Human error
Truck Driving at Night – 5 Safety Tips
If you’re a trucker and routinely drive at night, there are a few tips that you can implement to stay safe while on the clock.
Avoid Drowsy Driving
Of course, this is easier said than done. Nobody plans to be tired, but there are steps you can take to decrease your risk for fatigue during your normal driving hours.
First and foremost, get a good night’s sleep, and not just the night before you’re set to drive. Get a good night’s sleep every night, as inadequate sleep will catch up with you. Some other things you can do to reduce the risk of drowsy driving incidents include taking regular breaks, sharing the drive, staying alert for other tired drivers and pulling over to take a nap when you begin to feel tired.
Avoid Impaired Vision
Impaired vision is not uncommon at nightfall. No matter how great you think your vision is, certain factors can get in the way of what lies on the road ahead. Some such factors include your dashboard lights, a dirty windshield, oncoming traffic, driving too fast, using your phone or not wearing the proper eye gear. Some steps you can take to reduce accidents caused by impaired version include:
- Dim your dashboard lights
- Drive the speed limit
- Avoid looking at oncoming traffic
- Refrain from using your phone
- Clean your windshield
- Wear prescription glasses (if required)
Ways to Reduce Distractions While you Drive
Keep Your Eyes Peeled
No matter how safe of a driver you are, there is not much that you can do about other drivers on the road, or wildlife for that matter. Both wildlife and drunk drivers have a tendency to come out of nowhere, which can mean bad news for those driving truck at night. Though you cannot necessarily prevent an animal or impaired driver from crossing your path, you can control how you react to it. By remaining vigilant and keeping your eyes peeled on the road ahead of you, you can give yourself adequate time to prepare and act accordingly.
Maintain Your Vision
You cannot control the vision you were born with, but you can control what you make of it. The American Optometric Association recommends that all individuals, and not just those with bad vision, get checkups every three years before the age of 40, and every two years between the ages of 40 and 60. An optometrist can ensure that your vision is healthy and, if it’s not, ensure that you have the contact lenses or glasses so that it appears that way.
Drive the Speed Limit
You may be in a hurry to get to the next job, but driving fast may set you back even further. Speeding can result in both traffic tickets and accidents. If you’re driving too fast, you may not see that animal jump out at you, or that drunk driver coming from the side. Do yourself and others on the road a favor and drive the speed limit.
Truck Drivers – Nighttime Driving Safety Tips [YouTube Video]
Night Driving Recap
Truck driving at night can be both peaceful and rewarding, but it can also be dangerous. Stay safe and drive smart by implementing these simple tips into your routine:
- Avoid drowsy driving
- Avoid impaired vision
- Keep your eyes peeled
- Maintain your vision
- Drive the speed limit
If you are involved in an accident, your trucking liability insurance should be able to cover the cost of damages. However, insurance is just a fallback measure, and it cannot keep you or other drivers on the road safe from harm. Your own common sense and good judgement can. Exercise both when out on the open road and you may be able to avoid night time accidents altogether.