As an over-the-road driver, you’ve probably done some of your driving at night. Nighttime driving does have its benefits, but there are some major downfalls — like dangerous driving conditions. Despite there being less traffic, almost half of fatal car crashes happen at night. Sleepiness typically makes drivers less attentive, have a slower reaction time, and hinders one’s ability to make decisions. Here are some tips that drivers can use for nighttime driving to keep themselves and others safe:

Don’t Drive Drowsy

  • Rule #1 for nighttime driving is to not drive drowsy. Driving while you’re tired is just as dangerous, if not more than, drunk driving. If you’re a new driver or not used to driving at night, you must be aware that you’re more likely to experience drowsiness and fatigue compared to other drivers. The best way to prevent this is by getting enough sleep. Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep a day, so it might be helpful to organize a sleep schedule and stick to it while on the road. To get the most out of your sleep, you’ll want to create a comfortable and quiet area that won’t disturb your slumber.

Limit Distractions

  • Whether it’s the middle of the day or the middle of the night, you should be limiting your distractions while driving. Texting and taking calls are some of the most dangerous activities that drivers do. Taking your eyes off of the road for a split second can lead to a serious accident. The best way to limit distractions is by putting your devices away and turning their ringers off. If you need to check your phone, pull over into a rest stop or gas station. 

Keep a Clean Windshield

  • Windshields can build up with dust and bugs over time, which can make it hard to see out of, especially at night. Light may reflect differently or limit your visibility. To avoid a dirty windshield, use the squeegee and window cleaner at gas stations whenever possible. On the same note, be sure to change your wipers regularly and refill your wiper fluid frequently. 

Don’t Look Directly into Oncoming Headlights

  • Your eyes have a hard time adjusting to the darkness of the nighttime and the brightness of the headlights, so it’s important to keep your eyes on the lines rather than on the oncoming cars. Looking into the light too often can cause temporary damage to your eyes, which will hinder your vision and slow your reaction time. 

Use Your High Beams

  • Your high beams allow you to see further in front of you, so you can have better visibility. However, you need to be smart and considerate when using them. Use high beams for higher speeds and highways when there are at least 500 feet between your vehicle and other cars. Don’t use them in bad weather like fog, rain, or snow.

Allow for Enough Distance to Stop

  • This tip goes hand in hand with the prior tip. If you’re using your low beam headlights, you’ll be able to spot an object about 160 feet ahead of you. Most people need about 1.5 seconds to react. In the same sense, you need to be cautious about how quickly and closely you’re driving. If you’re driving too fast or too close to another vehicle, it might not give you enough to safely stop. Here’s an interesting infographic that explains reaction time and braking distance

Watch Out for Drunk Drivers

  • Even though there is less traffic at night, there are more drunk drivers. Drivers who choose to drive under the influence are a danger to both themselves and anyone with whom they cross paths. Truck drivers should be vigilant about watching out for unsafe drivers, especially on weekends and around 12-2 am. If you see a car not following traffic signals or swerving, steer clear and stay alert. 


Closing Thoughts

Many of these tips may seem like common sense, but it’s always good to have a reminder and to stay alert when driving at night. What nighttime driving tips do you have for truckers?

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