Some people strive for a desk job with a coveted corner office. Truck drivers have an advantage, however, because their office moves and can offer unparalleled views. Unfortunately, truckers may find themselves in dangerous situations due to reduced visibility or distractions on the road. These problems can be exacerbated at night, when one has to rely on headlights while attempting to avoid the glare of oncoming vehicles. Still, there are many visibility issues that can plague daytime-only drivers as well. This blog will discuss just of a few of the ways you can help improve your visibility while driving. Stay tuned for part 2 next week!
Shine Bright, Headlights
Many truckers prefer to drive in the daytime for convenience and safety. No matter how hard you try to stick to a sun-lit schedule, however, at some point your headlights will be required. This could be during a necessary night trip, or while battling early sunsets in the winter thanks to daylight savings time. Your headlights are especially vital for any sort of inclement weather, such as fog, rain, and snow.
The exact moment you need to rely on your headlights is not the time to realize one bulb is weak, or the headlamp covers are dirty. Regularly clean off dirt and road grime, then buff or polish the lenses. If your covers are old, make sure they are not yellowed or faded. Similarly, consider placing aged bulbs even if they have not burned out. Old incandescent bulbs are simply not as bright as new ones.
In addition to cleaning your headlights and replacing bulbs, however, you should also ensure that they are aimed correctly. Sometimes vehicle headlights are uneven or pointed too low, which means that they cannot shine to the best of their ability. Properly maintained headlights are one of the best ways to improve your overall visibility.
Use Fog Lights Appropriately
Fog lights are aimed lower than regular headlights, thereby enabling you to see the road in foggy conditions. In addition, the bulbs spread light wider than typical low beams, enabling you to see beyond the road’s shoulder. You may be tempted to use these lights in more instances than foggy weather or heavy snow, but note that doing so under normal traffic conditions and in the face of oncoming vehicles is against the law in some states. This rule also applies to high beams.
Keep it Clean: Windshields and Wipers
Keeping your windshield clean is commonsense, but its impact on your visibility means that this tip is worth repeating. Pollen, dirt, and other pollutants can build up quickly, creating a thin, hazy film. Meanwhile, bugs, bird droppings, and mud may create splotches that can block your view. It is important to keep the entire windshield clean, not just a patch in front of the driver, to help you navigate turns and see merging traffic.
Similarly, regularly clean the driver and passenger side windows as well as your side mirrors to avoid unwanted glares and diffused reflections. Be extra thorough while working, because windows that appear clean in the daylight may reveal streaks at night, and these streaks can cause glares from headlights and street lamps. Scheduling regular exterior cleanings with Fleet Clean will help ensure your windows are properly washed. In the meantime, also avoid wiping away interior condensation with your hand or arm, as our skin produces oils that will smear. Use a fresh, cotton or microfiber cloth instead.
Windshield wipers deflect rain, but they are also powerful tools for fighting any grime on your windshield. Washer fluid is inexpensive, so you can be liberal with your use of it. If your wipers are old, warped, or in otherwise bad condition, however, they will not clear the windshield and may distort your view. The wiper blades should be replaced fairly often, but keep tabs on the condition of the entire wiper arm component as well.
The Importance of Positioning Your Exterior Mirrors Correctly
Before we talk about the mirrors themselves, let’s mention posture. Many truck drivers sit too low in their seats. In addition to contributing to back and neck problems, sitting too low may increase the size of the blind spot created by the truck’s hood. Consider, too, that you need to adjust your mirrors to the right height: if you aim them high but regularly slump after a day on the road, your range of visibility will be severely limited.
When positioning your side mirrors, they should reveal your surroundings, not the side of your truck. Consider tipping them down slightly so that you can tilt forward slightly to see the cars behind you while consistently keeping their headlights or high beams out of your eyes. Depending on your cab and trailer size, you may want to invest in additional side mirrors or add-ons to further improve your line of sight.
The idea of side mirrors is to minimize your blind spots as much as possible, so proper positioning should enable objects or hazards to be tracked without gaps from one mirror to the next. Blind spots will still exist, of course, but positioning the mirrors correctly should help reduce them. Thankfully, most states, such as California, have a driver’s handbook that includes a chapter on sharing the road with tractor-trailers.
Visit our Fleet Clean blog again next week for more tips to improve your visibility while on the road!