June 2, 2022
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Long hours on the road can lead to fatigue and tiredness when truck driving. It’s important to stay alert while driving so you can keep yourself and other motorists safe while on the road. Driving while tired or sleepy is as dangerous as driving drunk. And it’s equally important to take precautions and follow all local and federal regulations when driving at night. Make sure to use your headlights, keep your windshield clean, and keep an eye out for reckless or drunk drivers.
Driving in the dark hours brings a unique set of challenges to drivers so follow these guidelines to stay safe.
Bugs, dirt, and other stuff can build up on your truck’s windshield. It’s a good idea to clean your windshield whenever you fill up your tank to keep that debris from limiting your visibility. When you’re driving at night, the reflection in your windshield can cause visibility issues if your windshield is dirty. Replace your wiper blades regularly, clean your windshield frequently, and keep a microfiber cloth or something to do a quick wipe if you notice something that will impact your driving.
Many truck drivers only ever use their regular headlights. But as long as you’re not within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle, it’s safe to use your high beams. And in areas with limited visibility or no overhead street lights, driving with your high beams on will enable you to see and avoid any obstacles on the road.
Truckers often drive on highways that are frequented by animals like deer, coyotes, and other wildlife, especially at night. It’s important to stay alert and pay attention to the shoulders, especially if the sides of the highway have lots of trees and natural landscaping where animals could hide.
Help your eyes stay focused on the road and keep your dark vision intact by dimming your dashboard lights. You still need to be able to read your dashboard, but reduce the strain on your eyes when driving at night by dimming those lights slightly.
Bright lights from oncoming vehicles can cause temporary blindness if you look directly at the light. It can take several seconds to recover from the glare, and that can be dangerous for you as well as other motorists. When watching the road, look down and to the right when oncoming traffic has bright lights that can potentially cause this issue.
There are many tricks CDL drivers use to stay awake and combat fatigue on long drives, especially at night.
As a truck driver, you may not always be able to sleep on the same schedule you would at home. But if you try to keep your sleep schedule consistent, you will have an easier time falling asleep and will get a better quality of sleep. When you get enough good sleep you’re less likely to experience fatigue or drowsiness while driving.
Make sure you always have some light and healthy snacks with you. Eating a granola bar, a piece of fruit, or a protein bar can help give your body some energy and signal that it’s not bedtime. Fast food can cause you to feel sleepy after eating, so try packing healthy meals whenever possible.
It’s tempting to load up on caffeine and sugar to give yourself a boost of energy, but drinking water instead of a cup of coffee or an energy drink is a lot better for you and can prevent a sugar or caffeine crash later.
When it’s warm and cozy in your cab, it’s easy for your body to want to curl up for a cat nap. Cranking the AC up and cooling down the atmosphere can help you stay awake and alert on the road.
Many long-haul truck drivers listen to audiobooks, podcasts, and music while driving. If you’re worried about staying awake during a nighttime drive, you can turn on some upbeat music and crank up the volume to keep yourself awake.
If you’re feeling tired or sleepy, park your truck at a nearby rest area, get out, and walk around a bit for fresh air. You can even do some bodyweight exercises to get your heart pumping and help you get rid of some of the cobwebs. A ten minute nap can also help you feel refreshed and keep you from drowsy driving.
Truck drivers do not have to sleep in their trucks, but many OTR truckers do. Most trucks have sleeper cabs that have a bed behind the driver’s seat. These cabs make it so that drivers on a long haul trip can sleep anywhere they can park their rig. And drivers can save money and hassle by not having to find and pay for a hotel or motel while on the road. However, if you don’t have a sleeper cab or don’t want to sleep in your truck, a hotel room is always an option. Many truck stops have hotels near or adjoining them for your convenience.