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Driving Safely at Night

Driving at night is three times more dangerous than driving during the day. Your ability to distinguish color and depth perception is altered and your peripheral vision is worse when in low-light situations. Night driving presents different types of challenges than day driving, limiting your reaction time while on the roadways. If you plan to drive after the sun goes down, consider the hazards of night driving and smart ways to handle them.

Safety Check

Before leaving your home, always conduct a safety vehicle check to ensure that your car is ready for night driving. Look at your headlights, taillights and signal lights to ensure that all are in good working condition. Keep your windshield and all windows clean, both inside and out. It can also be beneficial to bring your vehicle to a shop to have the headlights properly aligned, as misaligned headlights can impair your vision.

Light Etiquette

Many drivers do not use the lights on their vehicle in a proper and courteous manner. Headlights should be turned on one-hour before sunset to allow other drivers to easily see you. High beams should never be flashed at other drivers or used when approaching other drivers, as this temporarily blinds them. When driving in fog, use your low beam headlights as high beams can affect your ability to see.

Eye Exams

Your eyesight plays a major role in your ability to drive safely, especially at night. Many car accidents are caused when the driver is unable to see his surroundings properly. It’s important to have your eyes checked every year as you get older. Get checked for cataracts, as these can affect night driving. If you already wear glasses, consult with your eye doctor about anti-glare lens that can make it easier to see at night.

Distractions

Your vehicle has loads of distractions that can take your attention away from driving. At night, your instrument panel and dash lights can compromise your forward vision. To avoid an accident, dim your dash controls to a lower brightness. Always avoid other types of distractions that can keep you from the job at hand, including mobile phones, drinks and food, grooming or talking with other people in the vehicle.

Moderate Speed

Driving too fast at night can drastically increase your chances of getting into an accident. Traveling at high speeds does not allow you enough time to stop if a danger lies ahead. Drive at a speed that feels comfortable to you and one that is at or slightly below the speed limit. Also increase your following distance to approximately five seconds to make it easier to react to the road ahead.

More Tips

Fatigue is a major problem for many people that drive at night, as your built-in clock associates darkness with sleep. Ensure that your vehicle has good ventilation and take refreshment breaks frequently to stay alert. If you become too tired, pull over to a rest area for a brief nap before driving again. Drivers should never attempt to drive after drinking alcohol in any situation, whether day or night.