If you are planning to drive at night, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Although there are about two-thirds fewer cars on the roads at night, the poor visibility and driver fatigue still pose risks. As a truck driver, you should pay attention to a number of points when you are on the road at night.
Check whether there is no night driving ban
Especially on alternative routes such as country and main roads, you are often not allowed to drive at night with your truck weighing 3.5 tonnes or more, where a driving ban has been imposed so that residents do not have to suffer from noise pollution. Also some sections of the motorway are taboo for trucks between 22.00 and 6.00 in the morning. The countries themselves decide what these are – so your boss should deal with this issue when planning your trips. If you are caught, you face a fine of €75, and you get a point added to your licence.
There was some discussion a while back about whether a complete ban on night driving for trucks should not be enforced. This did not happen, however, since many fresh and perishable goods have to reach the shops in the morning where they are to be sold. Night drives also contribute to the logistical relief of hubs such as the port of Hamburg.
Night drives begin at sunset
If you remember driving school times, the night drives always started at sunset. This is because the low sun shines directly into the driver’s eyes and can dazzle them. In this case, you should use the visor over the driver’s seat and/or wear sunglasses. Without protection against the dazzling light, it is very difficult to see the other road users and often too late. But don’t forget to take off your sunglasses when the sun has set! It is very difficult to see through the tinted glasses at dusk and in the darkness that follows.
Have your night vision tested!
Some people see very poorly at night because their eyes cannot adapt well to changing lighting conditions. If in doubt, you should consult an optician and have your night vision tested – if you suffer from night blindness, you should definitely refrain from using the truck at night!
Lights dazzle eyes that are adjusted to darkness
When it gets dark outside, your pupils normally adapt to the new situation. They enlarge so that they can absorb as much of the remaining brightness as possible. If a vehicle approaches you now, the light of the headlights shines into your wide opened pupils and dazzles you badly. For a few moments, you hardly see a thing. In oncoming traffic, it is therefore best to look at the boundary strip on the right-hand side of the road. This keeps you in lane and prevents you from looking directly into the headlights of the oncoming vehicle.
Caution in darkness and rain
It is particularly straining for the eyes when you drive at night in the rain. The lights of the street lights and the cars are reflected on the wet roads and thus produce far more bright stimuli than usual. Drive particularly carefully and slowly in this situation. The disturbances can prolong your reaction speed, and on wet roads the truck takes longer to brake than on dry roads.
The body needs sleep
Especially those drivers, who sometimes drive during the day and sometimes at night, have to struggle with fatigue on night drives. The human body is designed to rest at night and recover during sleep. Accordingly, you will feel tired more easily during the night than during the day. If the signs begin to blur before your eyes, this is a sure sign that your body needs a break. It can otherwise all too easily lead to you nodding off momentarily, which leads to an accident. Protect yourself and other road users by stopping for at least a twenty-minute nap.
If you drive regularly at night, have your eyesight tested
With increasing age, most people’s eyesight deteriorates. Since the process is gradual, most people hardly notice it. From your 50th birthday at the latest, as a truck driver you should visit your optician from time to time. From this age, the risk of cataracts also increases. This can be corrected with a simple operation.
If you see well and do not suffer from cataracts, but still have problems with the lights during night driving, you can try glasses with a special anti-glare coating. It is precisely the bluish light, which is particularly dazzling, that is filtered out by this coating. Various opticians already offer these lens coatings.
Summary: Night drives are strenuous
Even if there is less traffic on the roads, night drives are more strenuous for the body than day drives. It is normal that we get tired towards evening and that we see less well in the dark. The change between darkness and headlights puts a heavy strain on the eyes. Listen to your body’s signals and interrupt the night drive if you risk falling asleep. If you travel regularly at night, you should have your eyes checked for visual impairment, night blindness and cataracts. And before you set off on a journey, make sure that there is no night driving ban for trucks on the planned route!