Most drivers will put in their fair share of night truck driving at some point in their careers. Depending on what you drive, night shifts might be your normal routine, or you might drive them only once in a while.
There are several perks to night driving, but it also can be more dangerous. Three times more crashes happen at night than during the day. If you’re headed out for a late shift, here are 7 things you need to know about night truck driving.
1. Your body’s natural rhythms are at a lull in the middle of the night.
Typically, your energy and alertness will drop in the early morning hours. This is particularly true for drivers who don’t typically drive at night.
Consistency along with a good diet and exercise helps your body adjust to a night driving schedule and helps you get the good sleep you need during the day.
If you need a good audiobook to keep you alert on the road, check out our top 10 list.
2. Your visibility is weakened at night.
Unfortunately, humans just don’t have amazing night vision. At night, your peripheral vision will not be as good, and you can’t see as far ahead of you on the road. That makes it hard to see animals who jump out at the last minute. It also means your response time to other drivers and events on the road is likely to be a little slower. Leave yourself extra space whenever possible.
3. Traffic is usually lighter.
Much of the world works a 9-5 job, so if you’re night driving, you will rarely have a problem with traffic. Even congested urban areas are often not a problem when you’re night driving. That said, the other drivers who are out are also at a low point of alertness. Keep your distance and drive defensively. You never know what other kinds of drivers are on the road.
4. Deliveries can be more dangerous.
At night, there are fewer people around, and you’re more likely to run into bad characters. Some drivers say this is especially true in urban areas when you’re making a delivery. Use your street smarts and if you’re traveling to a new area, try to learn what you can about the drop before you go.
5. You’re on your own when night truck driving.
Most dispatchers and customers aren’t operating 24/7. Typically, that means less after-hours assistance if you run into trouble or need last minute directions to your client.
If you’re an independent driver who loves being self-reliant, you’ll love the self-sufficiency.
It’s on you to solve your own problems and get the job done. Keep a few essential tools in your cab, and you’ll be good to go.
6. Parking options are better.
Night drivers aren’t competing for parking in the same way that other drivers have to in the day. Most of the time, you won’t need to dock early or plan your route around the places you know you can stop. That can be a huge time saver (not to mention the headache you avoid!). If you do need to look for parking or gas, try TruckerPath or GasBuddy to get you where you need to go.
7. Keep your windshield, headlights, and mirrors clean.
Glare can be a big problem for night truck driving. Luckily, a little glass cleaner and elbow grease usually does the trick.
Reducing glare from your mirrors and windshield will go a long way toward keeping your night vision.
Similarly, try not to look closely at oncoming traffic. The bright white lights will temporarily impair your vision. Look slightly down and to the right (or at the white road line) to avoid the negative effects.