Night Vision

Max Kvidera | February 01, 2012

Bright beams are useful tools, but don’t abuse them. Be courteous and dim them for approaching traffic and when following a vehicle.

Throttle it down

Slower speed is essential at night. When you’re on unfamiliar highways, such as two-lane roads, it’s often difficult to see the white lines.

Moat advises establishing a safety zone of at least 7 seconds at 45 mph behind the vehicle in front of you. Increase that by 1 second per 10 mph above 45 mph, he says.

Clemons instructs a following distance of two car lengths for every 10 mph during daylight and three car lengths at night. This will help you from overdriving your headlights.

Know your surroundings

Be cognizant of where you will be driving in limited light. If you’re driving on a Friday or Saturday night, remember that drunk drivers are more plentiful. If you prefer to drive during the day to time a night delivery in an urban area, watch out for pedestrians, Moat says. With limited winter visibility, watch out for children in school zones or residential areas.

Clemons instructs a following distance of two car lengths for every 10 mph during daylight and three car lengths at night.

In rural areas or on highways passing through woods another distraction is wildlife crossing the roadway. If a collision is unavoidable, Genovese says head into the animal rather than swerving to avoid. “They can cause a lot of damage, but flipping over causes more,” she says.

Fighting fatigue

Long hours on the road can wear on you, and your body’s circadian rhythm will seek rest, especially between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. and 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., the National Sleep Foundation says. “You have to be alert to it, and if you feel sleepy, we encourage drivers to pull the truck over safely and take a 10- to 15-minute power nap,” Clemons says.

Universal Am-Can mandates its drivers to stop every three hours or 150 miles to walk around their flat bed or van. That not only helps you find equipment defects but it helps you wake up and gets the blood circulating. “It changes your perspective and breaks up fatigue,” Moat says. “You can flag those stops in your logbook, so it doesn’t have to be a 15-minute stop.”

Truckstops and rest areas are the preferred places to stop for a brief break. Yet if you’re feeling drowsy and can’t wait for a designated stopping location, pull onto the shoulder, Genovese says. “Be extremely careful on the side of the road,” she says. “People, especially drunk drivers, can run into you, so put out your triangles or cones.”

You can also combat fatigue by listening to audiobooks, or rolling down the window for fresh air. Be aware of the new rule barring commercial drivers frome using handheld cellphones while driving. Instead, use a handsfree device to talk to a friend or family member.


Maintenance diligence

Inspections, both pre-trip and en route, are crucial when night driving. Taking the time to inspect your tires, brakes and lights before you hit the road at night will help head off expensive and time-consuming breakdowns on the road.

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