Night Trucking: Everything You Need to Know for a Safe Drive

Night Trucking: Everything You Need to Know for a Safe Drive

The road can be a challenging environment. Truckers, who spend their waking hours on America's roadways, know this better than anyone.

Even though there is frequently less traffic on the roads at night, the National Safety Council estimates that 50 percent of all traffic deaths occur after sunset. From October through March, the peak time of day for fatal crashes is between 4 and 7:50 p.m.

Fatigue is the most common cause of these types of accidents. Drowsy driving is equally as dangerous as drunk driving and has many of the same side effects, including hallucinations, confusion, impaired decision-making, delayed reaction times, and muscle weakness.

Drowsy driving is a leading cause of trucking accidents, so the federal government intervened and established trucking standards that must be followed by all drivers and in all states. 

Of course, fatigue isn't the only factor to consider when it comes to nighttime accidents. Other elements that may contribute to these accidents include:

  • Vision impairment
  • Human error
  • Reckless drivers
  • Animals

If you're a truck driver who frequently drives at night, there are a few precautions that you can take to keep yourself safe on the road.

Safety tips for truck drivers at night

Heading out on the road at night brings unique challenges for truck drivers. Safety during nighttime journeys is crucial for truckers and others on the road. Here are 16 essential safety tips tailored to help truck drivers navigate the challenges of nighttime driving with confidence and caution.

1. Put your seatbelt on

Even if you follow all the rules, there is still the possibility of an accident. Having your seatbelt on will prevent you from flying through the windshield in case of an accident. It has the potential to save your life and assist you in maintaining vehicle control.

2. Avoid driving while sleepy

We know this is easier said than done. Nobody wants to be weary, but there are things you can do to reduce your chance of becoming tired while driving. First, get a decent night's sleep, not just the night before you plan to drive. Ensure you get a decent night's sleep every night, as lack of sleep will catch up. Other things you could do are sharing the driving, taking regular pauses, pulling over to take a nap when you start to feel tired, and remaining aware of other weary drivers.

3. Carry out a thorough pre-trip inspection

Before each drive and rest stop, spend fifteen minutes inspecting your truck. Check to see if your truck meets all the federal and state regulations for your safety. Look for any leaks as you walk around the truck. Check each tire's air pressure to ensure it's full and ready to travel. Examine your hoses and belts. Check the reservoirs for oil, power steering fluid, and coolant.

4. Dim the lights

High-contrast lighting can cause fatigue and dizziness. This is particularly true while traveling through rural areas. Long stretches without civilization or streetlights will make you realize the contrast between the blackness outside the cab and the brilliant gauges and other lights within. Reduce the brightness of your dashboard lights, but leave them bright enough to see.

5. Keep an eye out for signs

After a half-dozen or more trips down the same highway length, you may be operating on autopilot and ignoring road signs. Keep an eye on the road signs; speed limits may change, new warnings may appear, and construction may begin and cease.

6. Lower the temperature in the cab

You'll be lulled to sleep in an 80-degree cab. Maintain a comfortable temperature halfway between 'cool' and 'chilly.' You've gone too far if you're shivering or your fingers are stiff. Is it not enough? Open the windows a little. The shock of frigid air above your head will quickly wake you awake.

7. Share the road

It's easy to feel like you own the road while driving a big truck. Who wants to go head-to-head with a huge truck, after all? Remember to be courteous to other motorists. Allow for faster traffic to pass without becoming irritated.

8. Watch out for stopped vehicles

If you see a vehicle stopped on the side of the road, try switching lanes to give them some room. Slow down as you pass them. Watch for them as they may attempt to merge with traffic in dangerous situations. If you watch for them, their errors won't put you at risk.

9. Maintain a safe speed limit

You may be in a hurry to get to your next job, but speeding could put you even more behind. Speeding can lead to traffic tickets as well as accidents. You might not notice an animal jumping out at you or a drunk motorist approaching from the side if you're driving too fast. Drive the speed limit for the sake of yourself and others on the road.

10. Practice patience 

When delays force you to go behind schedule, you may begin to feel pressed to move more quickly. It's easy to become frustrated when people appear to be preventing you from getting to your destination on time. As you travel along the highway, remain cool and patient. Allow yourself plenty of time to come to a complete halt. You will make unnecessary mistakes as a result of your road anger.

11. Drive in the right lane

The passenger side of your truck and trailer has the blindest areas. Travel in the far right lane if possible to avoid sideswipes and related incidents. If you need to change lanes, signal your intentions using your blinkers.

12. Mix in some quiet time with listening to the radio

It may appear that driving with the radio on all the time is a good way to stay alert. On the other hand, a constant stream of music, discussion shows, or books on tape might become weary. The more your brain has to process what it's hearing, the wearier it will become. That is why taking regular pauses from listening to the radio is beneficial. If the tires' continuous hum makes you sleepy, switch it back on.

13. Have a safety kit

A vehicle safety pack can help you prepare for a variety of situations. A small tool kit, a flashlight, and replacement lights and fuses may be useful additions. Extra flashlight batteries should also be brought. Incorporate a basic safety kit inside your vehicle. If you become trapped, remember to bring emergency supplies such as a blanket and extra water. If you want to know more about what you need, check out our article about the trucking equipment you should have in your truck.

14. Take a step out of the truck

Pull over and get out as soon as you can. Even a few minutes of wandering about, staring at the sky, or exploring the rest area might help your brain get back into gear. The key is to keep moving while actively looking around. Don't merely check your phone while leaning against the door. Use the time to inspect your truck if you wish to multitask.

15. Make a route plan

Never go without first planning your journey thoroughly. Of course, you must know where you're going, but there are certain advantages to conducting more research. Check the weather, traffic laws, and animal activity in your area. Make a list of everything that could affect your vacation. For example, consider a less windy, hilly route if winter weather is a worry.

16. Take a break

Regular breaks at different truck stops are required due to the need for fuel stops. On the other hand, some drivers try to make up time by taking shorter stops. This can cause drowsiness and exhaustion. Don't jeopardize your health by taking fewer breaks than necessary. Take some to walk around or exercise lightly. You can also watch a nice trucking movie and just relax. All of these activities aid in keeping drivers awake and aware.

Being a truck driver is a serious job that requires you to look after yourself and the people around you. Follow these safety tips to reduce dangers and have a good time on your trip.

Staying safe on the night shift

Driving at night brings unique challenges for truckers. To ensure safety, following the discussed tips becomes crucial. By staying vigilant, taking necessary precautions, and embracing a cautious approach, truck drivers can make their nighttime journeys smoother and contribute to an overall safer transportation industry. Remember, safety matters, so drive carefully and may your night travels be well-lit with caution and care.

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Road Legends Team

Post created: March 21 ,2022

Post updated: January 23 ,2024