Nighttime driving comes with a variety of risks that are not present during daylight hours. Driving in the dark comes with complications associated with depth perception, visibility, color recognition and peripheral vision. The inability to spot a hazard right away can lead to reduced reaction times and higher odds of a car accident. Use these tips to keep yourself and others safe when driving at night.
Inspect Your Headlights
According to crash data collected by the Nebraska Department of Transportation in 2020, 34.1 percent of all traffic accidents occurred between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. An inordinate number of fatal collisions took place in this window of time, however, between dusk and dawn: 49 percent of all fatal accidents. This shows the unique dangers associated with driving at night compared to driving during the day.
One of the best ways to combat the risks of driving in the dark is with high-quality headlights. Before driving anywhere at night, inspect your headlights to ensure they are clean and correctly aimed. They should be tilted at an angle that provides ample illumination of the roadway in front of you. They should not be so high as to blind oncoming drivers. You should also clean your windshield to avoid streaks that may catch the light of other drivers’ headlights and create a dangerous glare.
Ensure Good Vision
Headlights will only go so far in terms of improving your nighttime visibility. Some drivers have poor nighttime vision. If you have to wear glasses to drive at night, use an anti-reflective pair to prevent headlight glares. As an older driver (over the age of 60), you should get annual vision exams and limit yourself to daytime driving, if necessary. Be careful with prescription drugs, as well, as some can cause blurred vision and difficulty seeing at night.
Reduce Your Speed
Nighttime driving can mean a harder time seeing road signs and hazards, more animals crossing the road, and several other risks that can increase the odds of a car accident. A good habit to get into to protect yourself is to reduce your speed when driving after sundown. This can give you more time to react to changing roadway situations, such as a pedestrian walking on the side of the road or an animal crossing. Increase your following distance, as well, for added protection.
Prevent and Detect Fatigue
Driving at night comes with a higher risk of driving drowsy, especially if you are driving outside of your normal sleep pattern. Never operate a motor vehicle if you have gotten little to no sleep in the last 24 hours. If you feel tired, are yawning frequently, blinking often or your mind is wandering, you are at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. Look out for signs of drowsiness and pull over and rest if you are experiencing fatigue.
Look Out for Impaired Drivers
Your odds of encountering a drunk or drugged driver increase significantly when driving at night. Be on the lookout for drivers who are exhibiting signs of intoxication, such as speeding, racing, weaving between lanes, drifting out of the lane, running red lights, wrong-way driving, and braking and accelerating erratically. If you believe a driver is intoxicated, call the police to report it and maintain a safe distance.
Watch for Wildlife
Always pay extra attention to the road and stay alert for any type of hazard when driving at night. This includes wildlife crossing. Many species of animals are more active at night, including deer, raccoons and possums. Be on the lookout for the flash of animal eyes in your headlights on the side of the road or crossing the road. Reduce your speed and come to a stop, if necessary, to allow the animal to cross.
If you get into a car accident while driving at night, trust the attorneys at Knowles Law Firm for assistance with the claims process.