Driving HGVs at Night: Top Tips for Staying Safe

12-12-2017

Driving HGV at night can be a stressful and lonely occupation at the best of times. Staying alert while driving along busy roads over long distances is not easy as anyone in the business will tell you. It can be even more challenging if you are regularly undertaking long haul journeys overnight, as many operatives have to do nowadays.
Not only is there the problem of reduced visibility and the pressure of delivering on time, drivers have to contend with staying awake and alert for long hours. Unfortunately, long distance HGV drivers can get into bad habits that put them at risk, including having a bad diet and poor sleep practices.

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Here are our tips for staying healthy and alert while driving HGV at night:

1. Eat and Drink Well
It’s difficult to feast healthily while on the go. You’re probably driving along motorways for a lot of the time and the chances for eating well are limited to truck stops along the way. It’s something that you need to think carefully about and plan better if you want to stay more alert. High sugar or salty foods and drinks can not only be bad for your heart and overall health, they can make you feel tired, particularly in the early hours.
While the logistics are a little more complicated for HGV drivers, it’s still achievable if you make a few simple changes:
• Opt for fresh produce rather than processed foods.
• If you want a snack as you drive along, go for raw nuts and dried fruit rather than sweets, crisps and chocolate bars.
• Drink water and leave the soft bottled drinks alone.
• Find the areas where you can easily park up and get a nutritious meal along with your journey.
Try some of these simple tips from Life as a Trucker for a better diet.
2. Exercise Regularly
Another challenge that HGV drivers face is that they are sat behind the wheel of their truck for long periods of time. This inactivity is not only bad for the concentration, it’s also pretty bad for the health. Building some exercise time into your regime – a five minute intensive period of jogging on the spot or doing some jumping jacks – is ideal for those short truck stops. The more you exercise, the more alert you will be, especially at night.
Lack of natural light is another problem regular night time drivers also face, so consider taking a supplement like Vitamin D, especially during the winter months when days are shorter.
3. Getting Meaningful Sleep
Anyone who works during the night will find sleep a problem. It can often be difficult to find a quiet place to get a meaningful period of rest that refreshes you, particularly if you are on a very long journey and have to sleep in your cab. The vast majority of truck accidents are caused by loss of concentration and drowsiness on the part of drivers. This can often be because they haven’t had enough sleep, even if they’ve stopped regularly, or they are driving for too long periods as they try to get to their destination on time.
• Look for a safe, quiet location to stop and rest.
• Block out all light and consider using an eye mask and perhaps ear plugs to help.
• If you are sleeping in your cab, create a comfortable place that makes it easier to drop off.
• If you start to feel sleepy, you should stop immediately and rest.
Here are some more useful tips from the Sleep Foundation.
4. Keeping in Contact
Finally, another issue that drivers face is the loneliness of being on the road for long periods of time. Finding ways to stay in touch with the family and your friends is a lot easier nowadays and something you should pay special attention to. Stopping to Skype or call your family when you’ve finished a journey can do a lot to boost your sense of well-being and can even make you feel more connected with the world.

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