Night time trucking can offer some advantages. The roads are empty. Construction is often shut down until dawn. The pay might even be higher. But night drives also come with their own set of challenges and risks.
Whether you prefer nights or days, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself driving under the moonlight sooner or later. Here’s some advice from the pros on how to keep alert and stay safe while reaching your final destination on time.
It might be obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less important. The best thing you can do to stay alert and awake is to make sure you get proper rest beforehand. If your driving schedule is outside of your usual sleep schedule, try staying up a little later and sleeping in a day or two beforehand.
A nap before the drive isn’t a bad idea either. Whoever said naps are for kids was wrong. Science has shown that even a quick power nap can do wonders when it comes to feeling alert.
Don’t Rely on the Radio
Chances are, you’ve heard someone say they just crack the window and turn up the radio when they’re feeling a little tired. This does not work. At best, the radio will distract you, which in turn pulls your attention away from the road.
That’s not to say you can’t listen to music or even a book on tape. It just shouldn’t be the thing that’s keeping you awake.
Variety, however, can keep you from boredom, which in turn, could help you feel more awake. Just mixing things up with some music, then a book or a podcast, and then a little silence. This will allow your mind to go through different cycles, keeping you focused.
Keep Some Light on In the Cab
Light and darkness can have a profound effect on our bodies. A bright light can quickly wake us while the darkness makes us want to sleep. When you’re driving on an empty road, the glow of your headlights isn’t always enough to convince your body it should be awake.
Some drivers will keep a subtle light on in their cab, so they aren’t completely surrounded by darkness. Blue light actually combats sleepiness the best.
Speaking of lights, don’t stare into the light of passing vehicle in an attempt to wake yourself up. This is bound to disorient you and will likely hurt your eyes.
Don’t Eat Too Much
Food (and the process our body goes through to digest it) naturally makes us sleepy. Particularly when we consume too much. Whether you’re driving night or day, you shouldn’t consume a big meal before hitting the road.
Instead, try breaking it up into smaller meals spread across the drive. Also, go easy on the sugar and caffeine. It may give you an initial boost, but it will lead to crashes in the long run.
If you feel you’re remotely close nodding off, pull over. It’s not worth the risk. Find the nearest safe place to stop, and set a timer for 15-30 minutes. That’ll be enough to get you reset without entering a deep sleep cycle.
Keep It Cool
While rolling down your windows is not good driving advice, temperature does make a difference. Heat makes us sleepy. Cold makes us alert. Keep your cab cool, and you’ll find sleepiness is less likely to show up.
Make Sure You Have a Good Dispatch Team
A skilled, dependable dispatcher is an important thing for every driver to have at their side, especially at night. Make sure the company you drive for is well equipped with 24/7 dispatch. They’ll be there to keep you on course and remind you that you’re not alone. Logistics is a team effort.
If your company can’t afford to staff a proper night dispatch crew, we have you covered. We offer night time truck dispatch services for trucking companies. We’ll work as a seamless branch of your own team, keeping your drivers safe and sound through the night.