It is not unusual to find yourself driving on the road at night now and then as a truck driver. And while daylight truck driving is very prevalent, many drivers also prefer to go at night. There are still a good number of others who simply find themselves stuck between the two. Hence, they are commonly found switching between them.
In this article, we’ll describe everything we’ve learned from night truck driving that may be of help to you.
Why You May Find Yourself Driving a Truck At Night
Whether you’re an owner-operator or a company truck driver, chances are that you would sometimes have to drive at night.
In one instance, a simple work shift could force you into driving the night shift. Many truck companies like to keep their trucks running on a near-24-hour cycle to maximize returns, and it’s simply your time to take the night shift.
Another instance where you may find yourself on the road at night is when you have to catch up to an early morning loading or unloading appointment. This implies you would have set on the road much earlier in the dark to meet the target.
In some other scenarios, you would usually have been driving during the day and eventually find the trip running late into the night. When the destination is considerably close by in this situation, you might find yourself pushing through the rest of the journey.
And for some truckers, night truck driving is just by personal choice. And really, it’s cool. There’s nothing wrong with you. Especially when you consider that night truck driving tends to be enjoyable, having the roads all to yourself.
Advantages Of Night Truck Driving
Some of the benefits of driving your truck at night include the following:
- There is less road traffic at night when compared to day time. This could lead you to cover more distance in shorter periods.
- At night time, the absence of plenty of light in your surroundings means that you have fewer things to focus on. This can help you concentrate on your driving very well enough.
- There are also fewer construction activities going on at night time. This means that you are far less prone to accidents and other mishaps associated with active construction by daytime.
- It generally feels more relaxing. The cooler weather mostly feels more soothing, and it is easier to adjust the cabin temperature to the desired level. Less human activity at night also makes you more likely to have a smooth ride.
Disadvantages Of Night Truck Driving
Nighttime truck driving also has some demerits, such as:
- You are likely to be subjected to disruptive sleep patterns. It may take some time for the body to adjust to the irregularities of inadequate sleep, especially when you have to be switching between nighttime and daytime truck driving.
- It may not be as easy to identify obstacles and other road signs at nighttime when compared to daytime driving.
- Finding a proper truck park at night is often tricky, as most parks are usually filled with resting truckers.
How To Adapt To A Night-Time Driving Plan
There are different approaches drivers take to fit into their night driving schedules. Even so, what is most important is that you want to keep yourself very awake and on high alert throughout your driving activity.
- One way to get yourself ready for night driving is to get up early the day before, then take a long nap in the afternoon and into the early hours of the evening. This will help keep you awake for most of the night. Once up, taking a quick shower and getting into very light activities, such as a short walk or other things that prepare you for the trip, can be helpful.
- Secondly, it may be helpful to rehearse this routine the night before, even if you didn’t have to drive the previous night. Simply subjecting yourself to driving conditions at night can help prepare the body for the real deal when it is time. This is a good approach because it prevents one from being overwhelmed by the actual night driving experience, especially for first-timers.
- Another way is to stay up all day and push through the night as much as possible with the help of stimulants that can keep you awake. Some situations may require that you do that. But we must tell you this is not a good approach if you want to sustain your night driving shifts for a couple of nights or even more. Using stimulants can have an overall side effect on your health when used too often.
9 Tips To Consider When Driving At Night
Keep the following in mind for stress-free, pleasurable night truck driving.
1. Do your safety checks.
Your safety is paramount when getting into a night-time driving schedule. As a result of reduced visibility during this period, night truck driving comes with its attendant risks. It is, therefore, important to check the condition of your truck before putting it on the road.
Before getting on the road, you should check the tires. Are they all strong enough and in good condition? Are there any impending splits or tears? It is also important to check the pressure gauge of all tires. This is to avoid a sudden burst or unnecessary drag while in motion.
Since it is night-time driving, you should also focus on the truck’s lighting systems. Check that all lights, including the headlights, clearance lights, brake lights, marker lights, and overhead reflectors, are all good.
Other things to look for are the windshield, brakes, and fluid levels. It is important that the windshield is as clean and clear as possible to enhance visibility and that the braking system is excellent.
2. Eat the right things.
It is essential to eat right before and during your nighttime trip. Avoid foods that can be too filling and cause you to feel drowsy. Usually, these are meals that have high sugar, much salt, and plenty of saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The metabolic processing of these food items can be intensive and immediately cause you to start feeling sleepy.
The best kinds of food to eat for your trip are snacks, nuts, seeds, and the like. Aside from the fact that grabbing little bites from time to time can help keep you awake, these meals are generally very healthy for the body. Eating a good amount of fruits and vegetables is also good to help stimulate your alertness.
3. Get a short sleep
The body will always request that its demand for rest be met naturally. When that feeling becomes too intense while driving, it is better to find somewhere to pull over and take the desired rest than to be of harm to other road users.
You should take a break when you start to feel drowsy, yawn frequently, veer off your lane unduly, or lose touch with events or places in your most recent mileage. You should also take a break when you find it difficult to pay attention to road signs and traffic regulations.
Some trucks have a sleeper in their cabin where you can stretch for a while. Sometimes, about 10 minutes of a power nap does the magic to keep you up for the rest of the trip. However, if your body demands more rest, you can find a nearby hotel to lodge appropriately.
4. Take a walk
This should, however, be done with a lot of caution at night time. A stroll can help you feel awake and energetic once again. Pull over at the far right of the road and take that walk. Nonetheless, having a high-visibility jacket on is advisable to make it easier for other nighttime road users and security officials to see you. Remember, it’s a short walk. Resist the temptation to go deep into unfamiliar locations simply because you feel like it.
5. Restrict unnecessary distractions
Yes, distractions are good when they help keep you awake. They can be counterproductive, though, when they reduce the amount of attention you give to your driving.
A huge culprit here is your cell phone. Using hands-free devices when driving at night is advisable if you must take some calls. Activating your phone’s silent mode or the do-not-disturb mode could also help reduce unnecessary distractions.
While driving at night, you want to maximize all your sensory alertness, including the auditory. So you must avoid deafening music while driving too.
6. Low temperature helps
Many night-time truck drivers have suggested that a much lower temperature helps to keep them awake. The feeling of a cold temperature around you can keep you very conscious. It is also an excellent idea to let the cold wind outside blare across your ears and face. The noise, in addition to the cold air, makes you stay alert.
7. Lower the lights on your dashboard.
You do not have to put them out entirely, as you will always find the information on them useful. However, it’s a good practice to always reduce the intensity of the dashboard light while driving at night.
This is because you want your attention mainly on the lights in front of the truck and the immediate surrounding that they help to illuminate. Those extra lights from within can mix up inappropriately with those on the outside, causing you to judge inaccurately when you have to. So it is best to have them slightly turned on.
8. Obey all traffic rules.
Pay a lot of attention to speed limits on the road when driving at night. Navigate bends and bridges slowly and do everything necessary to keep you and other nighttime road users safe. Also, avoid smoking when driving. Some materials used in making them promote visual impairment, which you want to avoid as a nighttime truck driver.
It is also helpful to watch out for drunk drivers as you are more likely to come by them in this period than in day time. Keep your headlights on low beam when trailing other vehicles in front of you.
Pull up approximately when you detect any fault in the truck to examine it if possible. Set up your reflector triangles to help other coming road users stay cautious. It is also essential to watch out for wildlife while driving. They are more likely to come across them wandering the road at night.
9. Drive in good health.
Your health as a truck driver is as important as every other thing that has been mentioned. If you feel sick, you should avoid driving and make yourself available for treatment by your doctor.
It is also good to do a regular health check regardless of whether you feel sick or not. One very important one that associates closely with nighttime driving is eyesight tests. Get the appropriate lenses from your physician if one is needed.
It is also good to run a blood check to test for the amount of red blood cells, white blood cells, and other blood components required to stay healthy. Not getting adequate rest has also been associated with high blood pressure. So it is important to always check your blood pressure and follow up with treatment if there is any issue.
As a nighttime truck driver, exercising regularly to keep fit is good practice. Regular exercise can also help you greatly reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity, and other related health issues. Always try as much as possible to keep your mind together. Reading, meditation, and engaging in fun activities at leisure can help improve your mental health.
Tips To Locate Truck Parking Spaces At Night Time
As stated earlier, finding a parking area at night can be hectic. However, keeping in mind some of these tips can make it easier.
- Find big store shops near you. These stores may have some parking spaces that other truckers usually don’t pay attention to. All it takes sometimes is to be friendly with the store owners or keepers.
- You can also push through your journey till about 3 am, when you will find some early risers leaving their parking spaces.
- If you find yourself driving along the desert, that is usually a very safe place to park too. Ensure that you are safely parked and make your truck as visible to oncoming vehicles as possible.
Keeping everything we’ve mentioned in mind can leave you much to desire about nighttime truck driving. Just keep it safe always, and you are always in for a pleasant ride.