Tow truck drivers work very odd hours. It’s just a fact of life that cars like to break down at the most inconvenient times, including in the dead of night. If you’re involved in the towing industry, chances are you’ve had your fair share of middle-of-the-night shifts. Rescuing stranded drivers and their cars is a full-time job, emphasis on the full-time.
But driving at night can be very dangerous. Conditions after the sun goes down get treacherous. It’s hard to see hazards that are close to the road, and we can’t see as far ahead of us as we’d like. Plus when it’s dark our bodies are programmed to sleep. Fatigue is another obstacle to contend with.
We’ve put together some tips to help you be safe while driving at night. There are some things you can do to face the dark and keep yourself and other drivers safer.
1. Slow it down.
It takes longer to slow down a tow truck than it does to slow down a car. Make sure that you’re going at a cautious speed. There’s no need to rush. Take it easy and don’t push your luck.
2. Keep a safe following distance.
Again, a tow truck hauling a vehicle takes a while to come to a stop. Make sure there’s plenty of room between you and the car in front of you so that you can stop without hitting them. Back off and don’t tailgate, even if the driver in front of you is being pokey.
3. Use your headlights responsibly.
They’re not just there to make your tow truck look nice. Turn on your headlights starting one hour before sunset and don’t turn them off until one hour after sunrise. You need to make sure that other drivers can see you. When you’re following a car, use your low beams instead of your high beams. The driver in front of you will thank you.
Also, make sure that your headlights are properly adjusted before you set out. You’ve got enough to worry about without needing to fiddle with your headlights.
4. Make sure all of your outside lights are working.
You need to make sure that all of the lights on the outside of your truck are working. It might be hard to tell if you’re always in the cab, so take the time to do a “pre-trip” check. Lights are important, especially if you have to stop on the side of the road to help a stranded driver.
5. Keep your windows clean.
Dirty windows make it hard to see when you’re driving at night. Having smudgy, dirty mirrors or windows will reduce your visibility and make it harder to trust your eyes.
6. Check that your mirrors are adjusted properly.
Before you set out for your night-time drive, make sure that your mirrors are adjusted so that you can see comfortably. Having a clear view of the road beside and behind you is especially important at night.
7. Avoid smoking at night.
Carbon monoxide can actually hurt your night vision. When you’re driving a tow truck, you don’t want to take any chances.
8. Be as visible as possible if you have to pull over to help a stranded vehicle.
You need to make sure that drivers can see both your truck and you when you go to help a car that’s broken down on the road. It’s all-too-easy for someone to make a mistake when they’re driving at night, and you don’t want to take any chances of being hit.
9. Respect hour regulations.
Make sure to follow the regulations for the number of hours that you’re able to work in one shift. Driver fatigue is a real thing, so make sure that you get plenty of rest between shifts.
10. Don’t fight the weather.
If the weather turns bad, be safe. Slow down and be careful, and if the conditions get to be dangerous, pull over and wait it out.
Night time adds another factor to driving a tow truck. Be safe and take your time. Take extra care behind the wheel after the sun goes down.
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