Night crawling: Tips for late night delivery drivers

Night crawling: Tips for late night delivery drivers

Do you find yourself wandering the hallways of your house while everyone else is asleep, unable to sleep yourself? Perhaps you like the nature of the world at night and the characters it brings forth? Maybe you have no tolerance for sun block but you turn bright red after even just a few minutes of sun? Seeking an escape from that grueling daytime traffic or heat? Or you’ve heard about those high-paying gigs that some drivers receive at night (because how else can they be motivated to drive 15 miles into the dark wilderness)? 

Regardless of the reason, here you are, keys in hand, heading out to your trusty mechanical steed to meet the demands of the insatiable nighttime appetites of your town’s citizens.  

Before you drive off into that good night, make sure you’re ready. We’re not creating world peace or spearheading interplanetary travel here, but running delivery gigs late at night requires thorough preparation.

In addition to the regular issues that might arise in the daylight, you’ll need to be ready for the variations that are mostly unique to those hours between the setting and the rising of the sun.

1) First and foremost, are you well rested?

Driving at night will obviously disrupt what has probably been your typical schedule of sleeping at night. Take a few days to start making the adjustment to working at night by changing your sleeping and eating habits.

Nighttime driving demands extra vigilance to avoid collisions with people and things, and it will take more out of you as a result. Allow yourself to recover with adequate rest. I’m not an expert on human physiology, so search the ‘net on this topic for guidance from experts.

2) Prepare your vehicle

It’s not just your means of performing your work, but it’s also your safe haven, and even more so at night.  

  • Full tank of gas before you start. You don’t want to run out on a quiet nighttime road.
  • Carry a spare gas tank and MAKE SURE IT’S FULL of fresh gas. This has saved me so many times because I kept meaning to get gas after the next delivery, and forgot once that incoming delivery notification went off.
  • Have a LONG HEAVY flashlight with fresh batteries, and carry spare batteries. It’s mandatory for finding house numbers, street names, steps, and people at night. So many people forget to turn on outside lighting for you. Plus, its weight can make it a useful self-defense accessory.
  • All exterior lights working. Check to be sure every light on the exterior of your car works, including license plate lights, turn signals, and the CHMSL (center high-mounted stop light). You don’t want to be a hidden missile or target due to failed lights. You also don’t want to invite attention from your friendly local LEO (Law Enforcement Officer).
  • BE SURE YOUR HEADLIGHTS ARE ON AT NIGHT. I “yelled” that in caps because with today’s cars having DRL’s (Daytime Running Lights), you may think your headlights are on when in fact it’s just the DRLs, and your tail lights WON’T be on. Again, avoid being a missile or target at night.
  • Have a spare pair of low-beam headlight bulbs. Your lights will be on 6-10/hours a day now, and you’ll be surprised how fast they will burn out. It can be tough finding a replacement headlight bulb at 2:00 AM, and you don’t want LEO telling you about your burned-out headlight.
  • Working power door locks. I don’t think there’s a car made in the last 10 years that doesn’t have power door locks. They also should be programmed to let you unlock just the driver’s door first, and then all the doors if needed. Keep your doors locked, as soon as you get into the car (even before starting the engine) and every time you leave the car, even if it’s just to go 10 feet to a customer’s doorway. Bad actors can do a lot to your car and you in that small amount of time.
  • Have a backup battery with you that’s capable of jump starting your car.  Here’s a link to an example. It’s handy for so many other charging purposes as well.
  • Jumper cables. Even if you have a jumper battery like I mentioned above, you still want to have a good pair of jumper cables with you, just in case.
  • Consider using a legally-mounted dashboard Uber/Lyft light under certain circumstances. My goal is always to be as unremarkable and unnoticed as possible when I deliver. I don’t want to attract the attention of nearby residents or LEOs who might wonder why I’m driving slowly through the neighborhood in the middle of the night. Having an Uber or similar light on the dash can potentially answer their questions. But, you have to consider the flip-side as well – maybe you don’t want to be identifiable as a driver for various reasons of safety. Each situation is different.

3) Use your GPS or GPS software in the mode where satellite pictures are shown

When you’re trying to locate a house at night and there are no visible house numbers, or there are other complicating aspects to the physical layout (is it THIS dirt driveway or the one right next to it?), the satellite image will show you exactly where your destination is.

4) The delivery experience may be different

There are some things to be aware of and consider beforehand:

  • Different restaurant selection. Your nicer restaurants generally aren’t open late at night. Thus, you’ll be working with more fast-food and fast-casual restaurants. While you may avoid those in the daytime due to crowds, delays, and lower tips; at night they aren’t crowded and diners are often happy to tip more generously to be sure their food is delivered at night.  
  • Possibly more unreachable customers at the delivery point. Your customers may be tired or have been relaxing with adult beverages or other items and may have fallen asleep before you get there. Go through all the regular delivery processes dictated by your chosen gig platform(s), and maybe give them a call as you leave just to let them know you’ve delivered their food.  
  • You’ll have more wrong addresses. Often, diners will forget to change their delivery address from work to home at night and you’ll find yourself wandering around a deserted office park. No big deal. If it’s nearby, just deliver to the customer’s new address once you text or call them. If it’s further than a mile or two, call customer support for guidance.
  • Diners may behave differently than in the daytime. As I just mentioned, perhaps they’ve been relaxing and therefore be more verbose, friendly, or even belligerent. Just keep your professional composure, finish the delivery as quickly as possible without creating any unnecessary difficulties or tension, and leave. Or, if the situation is too uncomfortable, get out of there and call customer support for guidance when you’re in a better place.
  • Consider whether you want to deliver orders with alcohol. For various reasons, like I’ve mentioned, you may be more likely to encounter a situation where the liquor delivery shouldn’t take place. You might choose not to accept those deliveries rather than risk having a situation arise. (On a side note, I personally NEVER deliver alcohol. I’m not willing to risk deactivation, a fine, or jail time because I messed up a six-pack delivery for someone.)

If you have anything to add or comment on, please contact me at I’d be interested in hearing from you on this, or any other, topic. In the meantime, Happy Trails!

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