CHAPTER 13

DRIVING TRUCK AT NIGHT

Introduction

 

Overnight drivers exchange the dangers of crowded, bustling roads for a different set of dangers including poor vision and inebriated driving. This chapter will discuss night driving considerations and best practices for doing so safely.

 

Night Driving Factors

 

The problems of nighttime driving are many for the professional driver. Poor illumination decreased visibility, and intoxicated driving are all potential concerns.

 

There are three major factors you need to focus on when driving at night: Driver factors, Roadway factors; and Vehicle factors.

 

Driver factors — The major factors that affect you when operating at night are vision, glare, fatigue, and driver inexperience.

 

  • Vision — To put it simply, our ability to see at night is less than it is during the day. At night, side vision is worse, visual acuity is worse, and the eyes have a hard time adapting to sudden transitions from darkness to light and back again.

 

  • Glare —Another issue is glare. Oncoming headlights' intense brightness might briefly make you blind. The effects of glare on the human eye take some time to subside. Recovery times might be anything between a half and two seconds or more.

 

A car travels 150 to 160 feet in two seconds at 55 mph. Driving that far with eyesight obstructing traffic is a significant distance.

 

When bright lights are approaching, glance to the right side of the road rather than straight into them.

 

  • Fatigue — Fatigue has a role in safe driving, particularly at night. Blurred eyesight and a slower response time to dangers are also effects of fatigue. Some of the warning symptoms of weariness include:

 

Drowsiness

Making bad driving decisions

Erratic speed control

Erratic shifting

Intermittent shifting

Following vehicles ahead too closely

Frequent or repeated yawning

Loss of visual focus

Fighting to keep your eyes open

Heavy/drooping head

Stiff or sore neck muscles

Lack of alertness

Poor memory recall

Dozing off for a few seconds at a time

Weaving from lane-to-lane

 

 

  • Driver inexperience — Another concern is the driver's lack of experience driving a tractor-trailer at night. The more practice and experience you have, the better you will be able to handle the obstacles of nighttime driving, as with all other elements of operating this kind of vehicle.

 

Roadway factors —Unfamiliarity with your route's risks (road construction, bends, etc.), intoxicated drivers, and other road users are just a few of the nighttime road hazards you may encounter.

 

  • Poor visibility — Poor vision means that dangers may not be seen or detected as quickly at night as they are during the day.

 

You must rely on your car's headlights to provide illumination while traveling through rural regions.

 

Lighting conditions in cities might vary. Your eyes must adapt to various illumination levels since levels differ.

  • Familiarity with route — Although care should be maintained when driving at night on all routes, familiar or new, slow down and use particular caution on unfamiliar roads. Ensure that you have enough stopping distance.

 

  • Impaired drivers — Drunk drivers pose a risk to everyone on the road. Bar and tavern closing hours should be avoided at all costs. Watch out for cars that swerve from lane to lane, abruptly halt, struggle to maintain a consistent pace or exhibit other indicators of intoxicated or erratic driving.

 

  • Other road users — In many circumstances, the darkness makes it difficult for you to see other drivers, especially people who jog, stroll, or ride bicycles beside the road. Pay close attention to any roads that are bordered by trees or high grass. Animals may dart onto the road at night, including deer, raccoons, and other creatures.

 

Vehicle factors —The condition of the vehicle is a factor in safe nighttime driving. The lights, turn signals, windscreen, and mirrors of a car should all be maintained spotless and functional.

 

Headlights — The primary means of seeing and being seen on the road at night are headlights. You can see roughly 250 feet in front of you with low lights and 350–500 feet in front of you with high beams in favorable weather. To stop the car inside the headlights' reach, the speed may need to be changed.

Always keep your distance from the headlights. Your ability to detect threats may be negatively impacted if you drive beyond the headlight's range (overdriving the headlights).

 

Clean and well-adjusted headlights are a must. Unclean or incorrectly set headlights may reduce luminance by up to 50%.

 

Other lights — Identification lights, marker lights, reflectors, clearance lights, and taillights must all be clean and functional.

 

Turn signals — At night, it is even more crucial to communicate your desire to turn or change lanes. It could be difficult for other motorists to see your car and discern your intentions. The only method to convey this information could be via turn signals.

 

Windshield and mirrors — At night, having a clear windshield and mirrors is crucial. Glare may be produced by bright lights striking dirt on a windshield or mirror. Driving into a sunrise or sunset might be problematic if there is dirt on the windshield.

Truck Night Driving Procedures

 

Preparing to drive at night — When it comes to safety, being ready to drive at night may make a big difference. A prepared driver may concentrate on the job at hand without having to worry about things like route planning or whether the car's headlights are functioning properly.

 

Get yourself ready — Ensure that you are well-rested and awake. The symptoms of weariness may be amplified by the darkness, making nighttime driving more hazardous. Make sure your eyeglasses are clean and free of scuffs if you use them. Scratches may intensify glare, impairing your vision. At night, never wear sunglasses.

 

Plan your route — Map out your itinerary and have a destination in mind. Understand where construction zones are situated and where you may need to access or leave a route. Be aware of the locations of rest areas. If you are acquainted with your route, keep an eye out for any risks.

 

Get your vehicle ready — Give it a thorough pre-trip check. Pay close attention to the lights, reflectors, and windshield while doing this examination. When necessary, clean and replace. When driving at night —Driving at night differs from driving during the day in that there are additional considerations to make.

 

  • Avoid blinding others — Headlight glare from your car might be dangerous for cars who are approaching you. When your car's lights show in other people's rearview mirrors, they might annoy others who are traveling in the same direction as you. If you're using highlights, turn them down before they cause glare for other people. Within at least 500 feet of an approaching or leading vehicle, you must lower your lights.

  • Don’t blind yourself — Avoid being blinded by looking straight at an approaching vehicle's lights. Take a little rightward glance.

  • Adjust basic driving techniques — This entails altering your communication and space and speed management strategies.

  • Maximize visibility — When safe and permitted, use high lights. Remember that within 500 feet of an approaching vehicle, high-beam headlights should be muted. Adjust the instrument lights' brightness while turning off the dome light of the car. It is now simpler to see outside the car. Don't forget to check your mirrors, too. This increases visibility while minimizing eye strain by preventing prolonged periods of looking at one spot.

 

Communication — At night, just your car's lights and horns may be heard. At night, it's more important to indicate your intentions. Signal all slowdowns, stops, and changes in direction a little sooner than you would during the day. Avoid using lights to blind people as a signal. Keep the horn to a minimum.

 

Speed and space — At night, extend the following distance by at least a second. You'll have more time and space to identify dangers and respond to them as a result.

 

Drive within the range of the headlights, as this chapter has already said. Headlight overuse may negatively impact vision and your ability to stop for dangers.

 

Headlights that beam straight ahead (off the road) when rounding a curve reduce visibility. Curves are best handled by lowering vehicle speed.

 

Summary

 

You have learned about the unique difficulties of nighttime driving in this chapter. This covers the elements that raise the risk of nighttime driving as well as the steps that must be taken to make a drive at night safely.