Night driving can be a lot of fun. You can turn your music up loud, there’s less cars on the road and less distractions. However, driving at night, especially longer distances can be tricky and have more dangers than daytime driving.
Did you know that more crashes and auto accidents happen at night? It’s true, there’s about 1 and a half times more crashes at night than during daylight hours. In addition, nighttime crashes have a higher fatality rate as the crashes tend to be much more severe. In fact, the fatality rate for nighttime crashes is almost 4 times the fatality rate as those that occur in daylight hours.
The main issue that contributes to this is the decreased visibility you have at night. Not only is your depth perception, peripheral vision and color perception less at night, but road markings and signs are simply harder to see at night. The older you get, the more trouble you may have with driving at night, since a 50 year old will need more light to see than a 20 year old driver. Fatigue can also be a factor, for both old and young people.
Here are some essential safety tips to help you drive at night with less worry:
First, always make sure that your mirrors and windows are clean, as any dirt or dust on these areas will increase the glare you get from lights and oncoming cars. Also make sure your headlights and tail lights are clean to make sure others can see you. Whenever you stop for gas, make it a habit to clean your windshield.
Next, make sure to turn your headlights on before the sun sets. You’ll also want to keep them on until at least an hour after dawn.
Speed is a big factor in crashes, so be sure to obey the speed limit at night. In addition, visibility, even with your high beams on, is much less at night so obeying the speed limit is critical to be able to stop for any obstacles in time to avoid them.
Since there’s a lot of glare at night, you’ll want to check your side and rearview mirrors frequently, this can help lower eyestrain and keep your eyes focused.
Never drive when you are sleepy. Drivers who are sleepy are almost as dangerous as drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you’re sleepy, stop and get a cup of coffee to make sure you stay awake, or take a nap in your car until you feel refreshed enough to drive again.
Should you have car trouble, always pull over to the shoulder of the road and make sure to turn on your hazard lights so others can see you.
Also, be sure to watch the roadsides for the reflection of any animal’s eyes. You’ll be able to stop or slow down more easily if you spot them before they run into the road.
Use your high beams and fog lights only at appropriate times. Don’t use high beams if there are oncoming cars or fog lights if it isn’t foggy.
It’s smart to be a defensive driver at night, especially on weekend nights, due to the higher risk of encountering drunk drivers.
Lastly, put down that cellphone. It’s an even worse distraction at night than during the daytime.