28 April 2023 · Driving Hints & Tips

How to stay safe when driving between dusk and dawn

How to stay safe when driving between dusk and dawn

Don’t be another statistic. How can you be safe on the roads.

Australians love a road trip, but it brings an increase in traffic, and busier roads for the professionals in the Transport Industry. Those who wake up early or stay up late to ‘beat the traffic’ can cause issues for our truck drivers so we have compiled a list to help protect not only the industry professionals but all road users.

According to the latest NTI report focusing on truck-related accidents and fatigue, remote areas make up 34% of crashes, and 38.3% occur between midnight and 6 AM. "The likelihood that a truck on the road between midnight and 6am is involved in a fatigue crash is around three times higher (306%) than the daily average."

The report also indicates that fatigue-related incidents have dropped to just 8.2% of causes of major crashes, but it is still essential to understand the triggers. Before you leave, ensure your vehicle is safe for the road, get enough rest, and plan ahead. Good preparation is key to getting you from A to B safely.   

Preparation
Preparation is key to being safe. If you don’t already know your route, have the Sat Nav pre-loaded, so there are minimal distractions once you start the trip. Stock your vehicle with snacks, water, and choose your entertainment (music, podcast, audiobook) before you depart, to help keep you alert while driving.
It should go without saying but conducting your daily vehicle check is vital:

  • Check all vehicle lights are working correctly.
  • Check truck windows and mirrors are clean. 
  • Check fluid levels and for leaks.
  • Check brakes.
  • Check tyres for punctures, tread levels and that they are at the correct air pressure.

Dirty windows can reduce visibility by up to 90%, and even though there may be fewer cars on the roads, the likelihood of a crash is in fact increased during hours with less natural daylight. 

Having a Hino specialist in your corner gives you confidence and takes out the guess work, Southern Truck Hino Capped Price Servicing allows you to maintain a proactive maintenance schedule and you can book in a services when it suits you - like prior to departing. 

Is your truck adequately equipped? Having the right accessories is crucial. Accessories like a Hino Genuine bulbar, weather shields, fog lamps and a UHF radio can make a world of difference in an emergency.

Conditions 
It should go without saying, but it is important to check weather conditions before departing. In the Australian Summer, evening storms are common, and overnight fog can linger. Although the roads may be less busy, speed limits are in place for a reason. Beyond adhering to speed limits, we recommend being extra cautious and adjusting speed when there is traffic, or unfavourable weather conditions. 

Wildlife 
Many of our Aussie fauna are nocturnal and love to absorb the remaining day’s heat from the roads. So, when driving, it is essential to look for wildlife signs and act accordingly. Remember, it is safer to brake than attempt to swerve to avoid them no matter the animal’s size. A Hino Genuine bulbar can save you and your truck from serious damage.

Your Eyes 
Get your eyes checked regularly. Anti-glare and reflective prescription glasses can do you wonders. As your eyes adjust to dimmed lights, remember not to look directly into the headlights of the oncoming traffic. 

Maintain alertness; highway hypnosis can transport you into a trance, making you lose focus, drift off or even forget where you are. You can avoid this by focusing on objects around you, such as signs and markings, vehicles, and mirrors.

How You Feel
Aim to break every 2 hours and don’t drive more than 8-10 hours per day. Plan your rest areas in advance and stretch the legs – your destination will still be there in the morning, so it's important to stop – revive – survive. 

The most common crash caused by driver inattention/distraction is “off path on straight” incidents – this is when a vehicle leaves a straight section of roadway and off. – NTI Report. To combat these statistics consider using your smart technology such as Adaptive Cruise Control to help manage driving stress and fatigue. 

Lastly, take a nap before you go and travel on a light stomach. Travelling on an empty stomach can result in a lack of energy and the ability to stay alert, and large meals can make you feel sleepy. Keep your cabin cool and make sure to stay hydrated – not only does this keep you alert, but it also forces you to take more bathroom breaks.

With human error accounting for nearly two out of every three serious crashes in 2021, it reminds us how important it is to prepare for the drive ahead. Although Hino SmartSafe is standard on all models across the range, you can’t rely on your vehicle alone to bring these statistics down. The onus is on you to ensure you and your vehicle are road worthy. So always remember, drive to the conditions, be prepared, and please look out for one another on the roads.