With the days getting shorter, staying safe and alert becomes even more crucial when driving at night. For many commercial drivers, driving late at night is their preferred time, as it often means fewer cars on the road, less roadworks and generally quieter roads.
There are extensive regulations limiting commercial driving hours, which are enforced by the DVSA to help safeguard roads. But these mainly govern the number of hours worked, not the time of day that the work takes place. And truck driving at night can still have its dangers with 50% of traffic accidents occurring in the evening hours, many of these as a result of fatigue. Several studies report that drowsy driving is considered equally as dangerous as drunk driving. However, the good news is that there are several tried and tested tactics to help.
In this article, we will discuss how HGV drivers can take extra care on the road at night, no matter the hour.
Guidance: Driving at Night Tips for HGV Driver
If you’re a commercial driver and regularly drive late at night, there are several ways you can stay safe whilst on the clock.
Nobody plans to be tired, however there are measures you can take to reduce the risk of fatigue when driving late at night. Firstly, it’s extremely important to make sure you get a good night’s sleep – and not just the night before you’re planning to drive. You need maintain a good sleeping routine every night, as insufficient sleep is bound to catch up with you. The NHS suggests that adults require seven to 9 hours of sleep each night. That being said, it’s up to each individual driver to determine how much sleep they need in order to safely carry out their duties.
Some other steps you can take to lower the risk of drowsy driving include:
If you’re on a long-haul job and have to sleep in your lorry, make sure to do the following:
Remember – if you start to feel sleepy whilst on the road, you must find somewhere to stop immediately and rest.
Regardless of how safe a driver you consider yourself to be, there’s not a lot that you can do regarding other drivers on the road, or wildlife for that matter. Both wildlife and drunk drivers tend to come out of nowhere, and this could cause HGV drivers on the road at night some issues. Even though you can’t necessarily stop an animal or negligent driver from crossing your path, you can control how you respond. By remaining observant and cautious of the road ahead of you, you buy yourself enough time to prepare and take action accordingly.
With driving for long periods of time along motorways, it can be challenging to eat healthily whilst on the road. And to add to this, the opportunities for eating well may be restricted to truck stops along the way. Therefore, it’s something that you need to pre-plan. Food and drink with high sugar can not only be bad for your general health, but they can also make you feel tired, especially in the early hours. Whilst the logistics can be slightly more complicated for HGV drivers, it’s still feasible if you make a couple of simple changes:
A dirty windscreen is a problem at any time, but it can be worse when driving in the dark. Insects and dirt can actually cause light to reflect in the wrong direction, restricting your visibility at night. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you clean your windscreen whenever you can, and keep an eye on your wiper blades, replacing them as soon as the time comes.
As HGV drivers can be sat behind a wheel for extended periods of time, this in itself can present a challenge. Being inactive in this way not only impacts concentration but health too. Incorporating some time to exercise into your routine, even if it’s five minutes of intensive jogging on the spot or jumping jacks, can do your body and mind a world of good. Plus, it’s ideal for those short truck stops. The more you exercise, the more alert you will be – especially at night.
Reduced vision is not unusual when driving at night, and no matter how good you believe your eyesight to be, certain factors can still impair your vision of the road. For example, dashboard lights, a dirty windscreen, oncoming traffic, driving at high speeds, making a phone call, changing your music or radio, or not wearing the correct eye gear. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to decrease the chance of accidents caused by compromised sight:
If you’re a commercial driver with astigmatism driving at night, there are ways to help improve vision, including:
Remember – you must tell DVLA if you’ve got any difficulty with your eyesight that impacts either eye.
If there’s one thing that is guaranteed in the UK – it’s rainy weather conditions. Heavy rain is especially prevalent in winter, so drivers must be prepared. When driving in rain at night, it’s important to keep in mind stopping distances, which should be double the stopping distances on dry roads.
You’ll need to think carefully about where you stop/park your HGV, so that it’s safe, legal and won’t cause an obstruction for other road users. This is especially true if you’re parking at night on a road, where you must use the parking lights on your vehicle.
If you’re stopping overnight in a lorry park, it’s a good idea to park with the rear doors near to another lorry to keep the cargo safe. And make sure to always park in a protected, well-lit and reputable lorry park/designated parking area.
We hope that we’ve better prepared you for your next night shift. Now that you’re clued up on night-time driving tips, you’ll be able to take better care, ensuring that you not only keep yourself safe but everyone else on the road too.
If you’d like to talk to us about staying safe on the road, call us on 0808 178 9977 or chat to one of our agents right now.