Driving a truck at night brings with it certain challenges, which require proper mental and physical preparation. As we believe that our drivers are the most valuable assets to our company, we’re very willing to share our experience without hesitation. Our tips can be highly valuable for our future associates, maybe to potential lease owners, who want to join our company.
Night driving should be taken seriously. Simply, regardless of experience, you see less of the road ahead of you and have less room and time to stop if necessary.
Also, night affects the need for sleep. It’s a natural process. Sitting in the driver’s seat, especially long-haul run requires care for both internal and external hazards.
Check Your Health
The basic thing that you can do is the lab test. It should become a routine. A CBC test, also called the complete blood count, checks your red and white blood cells, hemoglobin levels, or other blood components. This can detect the presence of a possible inflammatory process or the presence of viruses and bacteria.
Hypertension often referred to be ‘’silent killer’’, can bring numerous health issues. Therefore, blood pressure measuring should become a routine as well. Follow all medical advice so that you do not exceed the upper limit of 140/100 or the lower limit of 90/60.
The thing we can control with our healthy habits is not to get into metabolic syndrome – a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. The main fighters against this condition are stretching exercises, regular walking, and of course, light food.
And a very important thing for driving a truck at night is to check your eyesight. Slightly higher diopters and astigmatism require appropriate glasses or contact lenses.
There is an old saying: “Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food.”
Every time you leave your cabin for a meal, the cheapness of fast food can affects your ad hoc choice. These are often good-looking and delicious meals that quickly fill you with energy. That’s because of high sugar and salt concentration, saturated fat and trans fats, and processed ingredients. But, on the other hand, it lacks the vitamins and minerals which are necessary for your body. Big portions of rich, heavy food can make you sleepy.
This doesn’t preclude occasional self-indulgence, but it sends a clear message that the body desperately needs healthy nutrients. To avoid the temptation of an oversized meal, you should stock your cab’s refrigerator with healthy snacks.
For a start, there is no mistake with whole fruits like apples, berries, bananas, oranges, and grapes. Veggies like carrot, asparagus, sweet potatoes, and broccoli is probably the best choice when they take up more space on the plate than meats such as fish and chicken breasts.
You should not forget nuts and seeds, which are a great source of protein, healthy fats, fibers, vitamins, and minerals. And of course, a stewed diet is very important for digestion, which is why you should eat soup and smoothies as often as possible. Cheese and eggs are also welcome, as the healthiest protein of animal origin.
If you need sweets, dark chocolate is the best choice.
Take a Good Nap
According to the FMCSA Hours of Service rules, a truck driver can drive a maximum of 11 hours per day. This leaves plenty of time to rest. In general, seven hours of sleep is recommended. But, there are also exceptional situations, when it’s necessary to take a nap.
Driving while feeling sleepy is very unsafe, but most people still get on the road despite the lack of sleep, risking their lives and the lives of others.
Listen to your body and react if you feel the next drowsy driving signs:
• Forgetting the last few miles driven
• Drifting from lanes
• Difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open
• Tailgating or missing traffic signs
If you notice any or all of these signs, you have to take a nap. It would be advisable to read more about the importance of napping from the expert side, so here is an edifying article published by Harvard Medical School.
Get Out of the Cab
Feel free to go out and walk for a few minutes when you need it. A little stroll and fresh air can make an effective recovery from drowsiness.
But, getting out of the cab at night is still more dangerous than during the day. The first thing that you should think about is to wear your high-visibility jacket. Whether it’s yellow, orange or, red, highly increase visibility outside the truck.
A Flashlight should always be at hand, and we have already written about that, so remind yourself on our previous blog about truck essentials.
Do a Trucker Safety Check Before the Trip
Fluid levels, tires, windshield, mirrors, and brakes are the objects of your daily check. Any issues you discover during the pre-trip inspection must be resolved before departure.
While driving a truck at night, some safety checks are a bigger priority than those during the daily runs.
When the sun goes down, the lights are, of course, the most important.
In order to check exterior lightning, the driver is able to verify the indicators on the dashboard. After that, step outside and check your headlights, marker lights, reflectors, reflective tapes, clearance lights on the top, and brake lights.
Keep the Temperature Down in the Cabin
The warmer air in your cabin can certainly put you to sleep. That’s why you should set the temperature below 80 Fahrenheit. You can open the window, but be sure that the wind doesn’t make a big change in the cab’s temperature level.
The wind in the face can wake you up nicely, but it can also cause headaches and colds.
Dim the Lights
During night truck driving, the dashboard lights can be distractive. You’re passing over interstate roads through the rural areas without civilization and street lights, which is why it’s important to focus on your truck’s lights.
Mixing light from the cab and limited visibility from the outside can be confusing. Therefore, you don’t have to turn off the dashboard lights completely, but darken it enough that you can receive information.
According to Omnitracs, the most distracted truck drivers are nearly 72% more likely to be involved in a “near collision” than the other.
The biggest distraction factor is certainly the cellphone, despite federal law limiting commercial drivers while driving to using only a hands-free phone. At night, the risk factor certainly doubles. Also, consider putting your phone on silent or “do not disturb”. Even if it’s necessary to make a call, do not overdo it and live it for stops or familiar routes.
If you’re listening to the radio or podcasts, don’t turn it up too much. Driving a truck at night requires all senses on maximum, and audio distractions are not desirable.
You should also keep a windshield clean. This is, of course, generic advice, but dirty glass can cause a light reflection in the wrong way and limit your visibility, and the night just makes it worse.
And of course, always be focused on your job, like a true professional.
Follow the Speed Limit
The semi truck driving depends on the state. For example, in Colorado, it is possible to drive 75, in Arkansas 70, and in California 55 miles per hour. But, it can be different at night.
Driving a truck at night, you need to adjust the speed to the driving conditions. Within the prescribed speed limit, also rely on you to feel safe and comfortable behind the wheel. Because, at night, it’s not only the darkness that disturbs. Combined with rain, fog, and snow, the view is considerably blurred.
Follow us further and listen to our tips on the weekly Extra Mile vlog on our YouTube channel Extra Mile International Inc. Trucking Company and visit our Instagram profile @extramiletx.
Have a nice trip!