The National Safety Council reports that only about a quarter of our overall driving occurs at night, but more traffic accidents happen in the evening than during the day and more of them are serious or fatal. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that we can’t see as well in the dark.
Other factors also include glare from headlights and traffic lights and drowsiness.
Below, are 13 tips to help reduce the risk of nighttime driving.
DRIVE MORE DEFENSIVELY
Since it’s much harder to see at night, it’s also more difficult to react quickly in a hazardous situation. Use all of your defensive driving skills when you’re behind the wheel.
GIVE MORE DISTANCE TO THE CAR AHEAD OF YOU & REDUCE YOUR SPEED
Since your visibility and reaction time are both lower at night, it’s best to reduce your speed and give the car in front of you plenty of room, at least three-seconds, if not more. If you’re driving at 60 miles-per-hour, it takes about 200-ft. to stop. To gauge how close you are to the car in front of you, choose a landmark along the road. There should be a three-second gap between you and the car ahead. If there isn’t, slow down.
CLEAN YOUR CAR’S WINDSHIELD
A dirty windshield can impair your vision during the day. At night it’s even worse. A dirty and streaked windshield can increase glare and also cause other visual distortions that make it harder to see what’s ahead of you.
USE YOUR HEADLIGHTS
It’s actually a good idea to have your car’s headlights on, even when you think you don’t need them. Remember to make yourself visible at night. Turn your headlights on about an hour before dusk so that you are easier to see as the sun sets. Of course, during inclement weather, keep the headlights on for better visibility and so that others can continue to see you.
USE YOUR HIGH BEAMS
High beams can be especially useful in rural areas where there’s no other source of light. Just remember to be courteous to on-coming traffic and dim them when they’re within 500-ft. of your vehicle. Also, turn your high beams off when you’re following traffic.
CLEAN OR REPLACE YOUR HAZY HEADLIGHTS
Hazy or discolored headlights can be a significant safety issue. According to AAA, hazy headlights give as little as 20% of the light provided by new ones. That low level of light can determine how far ahead you can see, worsen your night vision and reduce reaction time in a hazardous situation.
RE-ALIGN YOUR HEADLIGHTS
Over time your car’s headlights can become mis-aligned. Mis-aligned headlights make it more difficult to see the road ahead and they can also be a distraction to on-coming drivers. Check your car’s owner’s manual for directions and guidelines as to how to properly re-align your vehicle’s headlights.
AVOID LOOKING DIRECTLY INTO THE HEADLIGHTS OF ON-COMING VEHICLES
Most new cars come equipped with HID or LED headlights, which are much brighter than halogen. If the lights from the on-coming car are too bright, or the driver fails to dim their high beams, slow down and turn your vision towards your lane marker or fog line until the other car passes.
DIM YOUR INSTRUMENT PANEL & DASH LIGHTS
These are often a source of unnecessary and distracting light inside your car. If they’re too bright, they can diminish your vision and make it even more difficult to see the dark road. When you dim the interior lights, you remove their reflection on the windshield which gives you better vision of the dark road ahead.
BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR WILDLIFE
Many vehicle collisions with deer and other wildlife occur at dusk or at night. Your high beams can often detect an animal’s glowing eyes. When you see a deer, or any other animal near or on the side of the road, try not to swerve, simply slow down until you pass. You may also want to signal to other drivers the danger ahead.
DON’T BE DISTRACTEDDistracted driving is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents and fatalities. Taking your eyes off the road to text, answer your phone or change your radio settings is dangerous, especially while driving at night.
GET SOME REST
Drowsy driving is responsible for a significant percentage of traffic accidents. At least half of all American adult drivers admit to driving while drowsy. According to DrivingDrowsy.org, 20% also admitted to falling asleep at the wheel. Finally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that drowsy driving accounts for at least 91,000 car crashes each year.
DON’T DRIVE WHILE IMPAIRED
Impaired driving is dangerous. It accounts for nearly half of all automobile accidents. This not only includes consuming alcohol, but also illegal and prescription drugs. Have someone else drive you or take public transportation when you cannot drive.
For a FREE, no-obligation review of your automobile insurance, contact Blue Line Insurance Agency, at 518-523-4321 or visit https://bluelineagency.com/personal-insurance/car-insurance. Our professional agents can assist you in finding the right car insurance you need.