Imagine driving one of your long haul routes along long stretches of road with no traffic. Imagine a route with calm surroundings, minimal irate drivers and few distractions. This dream can be a reality if you plan on driving at night. However, ‘planning’ is indeed what it takes to make this change in schedule successful. If you heed certain warnings and make appropriate preparations you can literally carve hours off your travel time in some instances. Before you give into the temptation consider these few tips to ensure both your own, and other traveller’s safety. |
Rules of the Night Drive
Both you and your vehicle should be properly prepared for driving at night. The world is very different at night and the new set of dangers can take some adjusting to. Personally you should take a few days prior to embarking on the change in schedule to adjust your circadian rhythm if you can. A full inspection of your vehicle’s interior and exterior lights should be conducted as well. Consider the new obstacles that you may meet along your night-time journey and try to anticipate your reaction to them. Driving at night can be dangerous as proven by the sad statistics showing that despite fewer numbers of vehicles on the road there is a much higher incident of accidents.
Travelling at night will mean impaired vision, potential encounters with nocturnal animals, potential encounters with drunk drivers, plus your own tiredness behind the wheel. If all of that isn’t scary enough to keep you awake behind the wheel try these tips as well!
Prepare Your Vehicle
- Prior to your job, sleep. Do whatever you can to get a good amount of quality sleep so that you are getting behind the wheel fully rested.
- Study the route your sat nav gives you so that there are few surprises along the way.
- Take frequent rest stops, and when you do, get out of your cab and walk around. Try doing to some stretching to avoid stiffness setting in, and grab some high energy snacks such as nuts, fruit, and chocolate. Also, stay hydrated with lots of cold fresh water. Coffee and energy drinks are great for a short-term push but will not sustain you in the long run.
- Maintain strict self-discipline in regards to distraction. Mobile phone use should not happen behind the wheel. Save your conversations for the rest stops.
- Inspect your vehicle thoroughly before making a long haul night time drive. Repairs along the way will be much more difficult during these ‘after business hours’ journeys. Check the tyres, windscreen wiper blades, and all exterior lights.
- Re-direct your exterior lights to a lower level. Although driving at night will naturally impair your vision to some degree your headlights can be pointed in a lower direction to give you a longer and wider beam of light that also does not dazzle on-coming traffic.
- Wipe down your windscreen, wing-mirrors and side windows to eliminate any smudges or smears. These minor imperfections can become major hazards as they are repeatedly lit up by on-coming traffic.
A few other common-sense tips can also help guarantee a successful night-time journey. Don’t look directly into on-coming headlights, avoid skipping scheduled rest stops, and maintain all your usual safe driving practices. As the roads empty out the temptation to ‘push the pedal to the metal’ is understandably high. However, the short-lived thrill simply isn’t worth it when you consider how the consequences of a ticket or an accident might affect your career. Otherwise, it is possible to enjoy driving at night, with the solitude and calm surroundings becoming the highlight of your journey. The time saved by avoiding the hustle and bustle and traffic of the daylight hours just might save your nerves and boost your career!
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange is the leading service for matching haulage jobs with available vehicles. They also provide expert articles on topics like driving at night and other issues in the freight industry. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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