Commercial truck drivers typically find themselves driving in the darkness of night at some point during the trip, regardless of how they may plan their trucking schedule. Truck drivers are presented with special challenges at night, so they must know how to take safety precautions. Truck drivers can benefit from knowing these night time driving safety tips to avoid being involved in a commercial semi tractor trailer accident that can hurt themselves and occupants of passenger vehicles:
Typically, your energy and alertness will go down at nighttime. Truck driver who typically don’t drive at night can be particularly affected. Here is a a night time truck driving video:
Your sleeping habits and health are the most important aspects of safe night time driving. You should get a DOT recommended physical exam every two years, but you should also get your eyes checked by a qualified optometrist to make sure your long distance vision is adequate, especially at night, when your visibility can be limited due to night time conditions. If you are experiencing chronic fatigue or sleep problems you should consult a physician because you may be suffering from sleep apnea which can impact your focus and attentiveness while on the road.
Every commercial truck driver is required to perform a pre-trip safety check on the tractor tailer. In addition, you should keep your semi truck clean, especially the windshield, windshield wipers are in good shape, and side view mirrors properly positioned and are clean. The semi truck dirty windshield can compound the problem with visibility at night time. Be sure to clean your windshield inside and out and replace the wipers regularly. You should also adjust the brightness of your dashboard instrumentation lighting so brightness of the instrumentation panel is not reflecting off of your windshield and back into your eyes which can affect your ability to see.
Truckers don’t realize that tired driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving. Your safety and those of other motorist sharing the road with you depend your ability to stay awake as a commercial truck driver. No money is worth risking your life and those of other motor vehicle drivers, so be sure to get off the road if you are too tired to continue driving safely. You must find a safe place to rest such as a truck stop where you can sleep in your cab's sleeper section, rest, exercise, eat and shower.
What’s the best thing to do after a big, heavy meal? It’s definitely not driving at night! A full belly means your body is working hard to digest rather than keeping your brain alert. Night driving may be a better time for healthy snacks or lighter meals, such as salad, vegetables and lean protein, smoothies, or other food that is easier to digest.
Truck drivers don’t realize that nighttime driving can lead to dozing off for a split second, commonly referred to as micro sleep, which can result in catastrophic injuries and property damage. Truckers are commonly suffering from boredom on the road, which often times leads to sleepiness. Long haul commercial truckers’ driver should have a plan or at least a few options to keep you awake and alert. Try listening to music you like, podcast, or talk show to keep you engaged and attentive. Don’t listen to music that will put you to sleep. Sometimes truck driver’s find interesting podcasts or talk radio shows to listen to that keeps them stimulated. We recommend these audiobooks as a potential solution to your drowsiness that can help keep you awake.
Distracted driving contributes to more motor vehicle accidents than any other factor. Truck drivers must pay attention to the road at all times. Don’t be pre-occupied in other activities or get distracted by in vehicle gadgets like cell phones, texting, Facebook, Twitter, Google web browser, GPS system, radio, CB, or other devices. In the recent personal technology explosion, most truck drivers are using their cell phones for entertainment, communication, and travel directions, which are the number one cause of distracted driving accidents behind the wheel. Don’t use your phone or text until you stop to take a break or refuel.
Nighttime truck driving may have lighter traffic, but animals can cross your path at any time in the dark, which can be a serious potential road hazard, especially if you can’t see them in your peripheral vision before one darts in front of your semi-truck. You should scan the road ahead, so you are able to anticipate what is coming into your path of travel. You should avoid last minute swerving, which can cause you to go into a dangerous jackknife, seriously injuring or killing other passenger vehicle drivers, or cause you to lose your cargo. Use your brakes to slow down as much as possible rather than swerve to minimize the damage.
Unfortunately, humans were not designed to see at night. At night, every aspect of your ability to see is affected and will depend on your lighting system and keeping your windshield clean. You will only be able see as far ahead of your headlights allow. You can’t respond to things you don’t see, which means your perception reaction time will be reduced. You should leave yourself extra space ahead whenever possible.
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