There are two different schools of thought about how truckers should handle driving at night. On the one hand, some say that it's a great way to avoid traffic and cover more miles with open roads. On the other hand, it's not necessarily a good idea because other drivers may behave more erratically at these times and it's easier for truckers to become drowsy and inattentive behind the wheel.
If you're the kind of driver who is thinking about making the switch to putting in more service hours after the sun goes down, the following tips are essential for safe, comfortable operation:
1) Pay more attention to your body's needs
Especially if you're only beginning to adjust to a night-driving schedule, you need to make sure you're aware of what's going on with your body, according to National Retail Systems. Specifically, if you start to feel even a little tired, it's usually a better idea to play it safe and pull over at the earliest opportunity, rather than trying to power through. That kind of good decision will help you avoid an accident and ensure you're driving at peak effectiveness.
2) Make sure your lights all work
This is a good idea no matter what time of day or night you're driving, but it's absolutely critical if you're going to do most of your work after the sun goes down, National Retail Systems advised. The reason why is simple: You need to ensure you can see everything going on in front of you on the road, and that other drivers can see you. Night drivers would be wise to conduct these kinds of inspections more frequently.
3) Keep it cool
A great way to avoid getting drowsy when you're driving at night is to stop cranking up the heat, according to Knight Transportation. Higher temperatures make the body want to fall asleep at the end of the day, so turning up the A/C (or, in winter, turning down the heat) should help keep you alert.
4) Don't eat too much heavy food first
You know that old story about how eating turkey on Thanksgiving makes you tired? It's not the turkey, it's the fact that you ate a huge amount of food, Knight Transportation added. That same principle applies to any meal you eat, so it's a good idea to make sure you eat smaller meals if you're going to make night driving a habit. That way, you won't be as likely to become drowsy as your body works overtime to process all that food.
5) Stay on top of the weather
Especially when seasons start to change, driving at night can pose some safety problems during and even after bad weather, according to Truck Servicez. You are far less likely to see big puddles (which can lead to hydroplaning) or sheets of ice (resulting in sliding and loss of control) when it's dark out, so you may need to proceed with more caution whenever adverse conditions arise.
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