Did you know that 49% of all fatal accidents happen between the hours of 9pm and 3am? Between low visibility, drunk drivers, and driver fatigue, nighttime is a very dangerous time to drive.
There are several precautions you can take at night as a defensive driver, below are just a few of the important tips you will learn.
There are several factors that contribute to the dangers of nighttime driving: Darkness, decreased visibility, night blindness, construction, animals, and drivers.
Here is how to deal which each of these risk factors.
It’s probably obvious to the majority of you that light during the dark helps you see. This is true, but maintaining your headlights properly isn’t quite as obvious a necessity, but it’s essential to night driving.
Make sure your headlights are always in working condition to ensure you never get stuck with a single headlight while out on the road. Also, make sure the covers for them are clean to ensure you get the best lighting possible out of them so you can see your surroundings.
Dim Your Dashboard
Some vehicles automatically dim your dashboard when your headlights are fully turned on, but for those with vehicles that don’t have this function, dimming your headlights will help tremendously with your ability to see while driving at night.
This is because these inside lights can make seeing in the dark more difficult, even if you have your headlights on, so dimming them can really help your ability to see.
Many traffic accidents and deaths happen at night. This is due to many things, such as the limited sight ability, but is also due to the fact that people are typically driving when they should be asleep and aren’t operating at full capacity.
Fatigue not only reduces your reaction time, but can also cause you to fall asleep at the wheel, and I shouldn’t have to tell you why that’s extremely dangerous.
If you’re working at night or planning a long trip, your best bet is to get adequate sleep beforehand and take someone with you who can take over the wheel for a bit if you’re feeling tired.
If this isn’t an option, you can either get a hotel room for the night when you’re feeling tired or stop somewhere safe (not the side of the road) to take a quick nap before continuing. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and a loss of attention at the wheel can make you very, very sorry.
Wear Proper Glasses
This is not to say you should be wearing sunglasses or anything of the sort at night. Even if the headlights from the drivers on the other side of the road are bright, you shouldn’t be wearing anything that will further compromise your vision. Ever.
This is referring to those of us that wear prescription glasses. If you, like me, require lenses to see properly, then making sure your glasses have an anti-reflective coating on the lens will save you a lot of trouble. This is because these lenses keep light from bouncing off the lenses and in front of your eyes, keeping the reflection you see on normal lenses due to light way down, and your visibility where it should be.
Keep An Eye Out For Eyes
This is particularly necessary if you live in the country or take a lot of back roads, because animals are everywhere, and there’s no way to predict when one will decide to scurry out onto the road.
The one way to detect one is to look out for their retinas, which will reflect the light from your headlights and alert you to their presence long before you actually spot the animal itself. This can be tricky to identify at first, but will look like a pair of tiny bright spots, and are a great indicator that you should slow down and keep an eye out for them.
Keep Your Mirrors Clean
This is more for your exterior mirrors than the interior ones, but a clean mirror is the best type of mirror to have. A dirty mirror will distort any reflected lights and cause more of a glare than a clean mirror will.
You’ll also want to angle them in such a way that the light from vehicles will not be reflected directly into your eyes to impair your vision; This can be done by angling them down ever so slightly so you can still see the other cars by moving your head forward slightly, but won’t become blinded by the light.
Never Drive Impaired
I don’t care if you’re at a party, there’s nowhere to sleep, and you really, really want to be in the comfort of your own home and in your own bed – you should never, ever get behind the wheel if you ‘re even slightly impaired. Just don’t do it.
Your vision and, as a result, reaction time are already compromised while you’re driving in the dark, and adding intoxication of any kind to it is simply a recipe for disaster. And that isn’t to say you can drive impaired during the day, either – you should never drive while impaired. Ever. Just don’t.
You’ll be happier, and so will all the other drivers on the road, because you’ll all be alive.
Adjust and Clean Exterior Mirrors
Driving with a dirty windshield and mirrors can distract the driver as it can reflect the lights from the vehicles behind you and produce glare. So make sure to always keep them clean.
Also, aim your exterior mirror slightly downward so you can easily see cars behind you.
If available in your vehicle, don’t forget to set your inside rear-view mirror to Auto-Dim or Night setting to darken the mirror and prevent glare.
Use High Beams When Necessary
Failure to use high beams at night is a common mistake. High beams improve your visibility when you’re driving at night, especially in an isolated area.
When another car approaches, dim your high beams. Low beams should be used when driving in the rain, snow, fog, or when you’re behind another vehicle.
If your vehicle has fog lights, you can use that during inclement weather conditions.
When driving at night, visibility is limited. It’s difficult to see objects approaching you or from either side of the road. Reducing your speed is crucial, especially if there’s bad weather.
Watch Out for Pedestrians, Wildlife, Bicycles, and Other Obstacles
Not all who walk, jog, and use their bicycles wear safety gear. Most of the time, they can be very difficult to see when it’s dark. When approaching a pedestrian, slow down, keep a safe distance, and be sure to look both ways to ensure no one is stepping off the curb.
It’s common to have collisions with deers during dusk or night from October to January. Using high beams will allow you to spot animals. The safest way to drive at night to prevent these types of accidents is to slow down and stop.