Car Pro Advice: The Dangers Of Nighttime Driving

Car headlights at night
Credit: AAA
Nighttime driving can be one of the most dangerous activities you do on a regular basis. Consider this: almost 50 percent of all fatal car accidents occur at night and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, road fatalities occur at a rate three times greater at night than during the day.

That is an ominous statistic to say the least. However, there is really no reason that night driving has to be unsafe. Here are some helpful tips to keep your visibility high and make the trip to your destination a safe one.

Obviously, there’s less light available for you at night, so one critically important step you’ll want to take is checking your headlights. Make sure both of them work. If not, replace both of them to avoid having one light stronger or weaker than the other. Check their housings and lenses too. Make sure they’re clean, clear, and aimed correctly.

Headlights before and after cleaning
Aged Headlights Reduce Lighting by More Than 80%

If your headlights look severely cloudy or foggy most auto part stores sell buffering kits that can help. Walmart auto centers provide this service relatively cheap. To get your headlights aimed perfectly, follow the instructions in your owner’s manual. This could take some trial and error. Usually, it is not a difficult thing to do.

For driving after dark, make sure your windshield is clean. It might seem like common sense, but having a clean windshield, inside and out, makes a huge difference.

The Dangers of Drowsy Driving - Common symptoms of drowsy driving: 1. Trouble keeping eyes open. 2. Drifting from your lane. 3. Can't recall last few miles driven. Source: AAA

Realize that at night, your depth perception, ability to distinguish color, and peripheral vision are all worse in low-light conditions, so staying alert and sober is one of the best drowsy driving remedies.

If possible, have someone else in the car to talk to, have some coffee or other caffeine products on board, or simply pull over in a safe location and stretch for a few minutes, you can even try rolling down the window.

Most people do not realize that driving with your dash lights on maximum brightness can compromise your forward vision. To help combat this simply dim your instrument panel and dash lights.

Always avoid staring at oncoming lights because they can seriously disrupt your concentration at night. Do your best to not gaze into other lights on the road, especially oncoming high beams.

Adaptive driving beam headlights use high beams while eliminating glare for other drivers
Adaptive driving beam headlights may increase roadway lighting up to 86%

It is a good idea, too, to turn your headlights on one hour before dusk and one hour after dawn
to increase your vehicle’s visibility.

Especially on a trip, it is important to keep a roadside emergency kit stashed in the back of their vehicle. You never know when an unexpected event will keep you from reaching your destination. A few necessities you should include: jumper cables, a first aid kit, a flashlight with extra batteries, roadside flares, a quart of oil, and a multi-tool or miniature toolkit.

Finally, we all understand the dangers of alcohol. One thing everyone should realize is that even if you are sober and alert, other people will get boozed up and jump behind the wheel at night, therefore, putting you in potential danger should you be unfortunate enough to cross their drunken path.

Just a reminder, make sure you always wear your seatbelt, maintain a generous following distance, and use extra caution at intersections. Please, don’t text and drive, day OR night.

Driving at night doesn’t have to be unsafe. Use your best judgment and if you can avoid driving late at night, particularly on weekends, you should.
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