Nighttime driving presents obstacles and risks that you do not have to deal with during the day, such as shorter days and compromised night vision. In addition, the everyday risks become a little more dangerous under the cover of darkness.
The major threats when driving trucks at night
The eyes, in general, are terrible at seeing at night with depth perception, peripheral vision and the ability to distinguish color diminished.
Because your vision accounts for nearly 90% of your reaction while driving, nighttime driving dramatically decreases your ability to effectively respond to potential hazards on the road.
Factors that made nighttime driving dangerous
- Reduced visibility: At night, we no longer have natural light to help us see road signs, other drivers, pedestrians, debris in the road, animals, and other obstacles. It also makes it more difficult to judge the distance between your car/truck and another car/truck.
Driving at night means relying on headlights and streetlights, which don’t provide the same visibility that natural light does. In addition, many of our rural roads do not have any streetlights and at times load shedding will add to this.
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- Age factors: Unfortunately, as we age, our ability to see at night deteriorates. In addition, older drivers may have compromised vision due to cataracts and degenerative eye diseases.
- Rush hour: Any time of the year, rush hour can be a dangerous driving time. As the days get shorter and darkness comes earlier, the drive time becomes more dangerous especially when driving in stop-and-go or bumper-to-bumper traffic.
- Driving under the influence: Impaired drivers are more likely to be on the road after dark, between the hours of midnight to 3 a.m. on weekends. There is a higher risk of sharing the road with an impaired driver at night as people leave restaurants and bars.
- Construction activity: Often, road construction happens in the evening hours. With poor light and other factors, it can be difficult to see construction work zones, and you can get blinded by the bright work lights being used
- Potholes: Even though national roads are usually well maintained, especially on the secondary or rural roads lack of road maintenance and the increased number of potholes have become a major threat to the safety of truck drivers.
Safe driving techniques and safety tips when driving at night
- Make sure your headlights and brake lights are in proper working order.
- Aim your headlights correctly and make sure they are clean.
- Turn your headlights on about an hour before the sun goes down. This makes it easier for other drivers to see you at dusk.
- Be careful using your high beams. You do not want to blind other drivers.
- Dim your dashboard lights. Lights in the car can sometimes cause a nighttime glare on your windshield.
- Driver slower. Driving too fast reduces your ability to react to whatever might be in the road.
- Allow for more space between you and the car or truck ahead of you.
- You can avoid nighttime glare by focusing your eyes on the right side of the road near the white lines, using the day-night feature on your rearview mirror and keeping your windshield clean.
- Take breaks to break up long drives.
- Avoid drivers who are swerving or drifting.
- Know when to pull over to a safe rest area to get some sleep or take a nap.
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