The street signs are harder to read, headlights glare through your windshield, there’s an increased number of risky drivers on the road – without a doubt, driving at night is more dangerous than daytime driving. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Council (NHTSA) has identified that fatal accidents are three times more likely at night compared to the daytime.
The main culprit is a lack of visibility, we simply can’t see as vividly in the dark. You can’t see as much of the road and have less room to stop. Believe it or not, some kinds of light – like the glare of high beams – can make nighttime visibility even worse.
There are a variety of factors that add to the challenge of nighttime driving, but, we’ve got 10 tips to help keep you safe on the road after sundown:
According to NHTSA the rate of fatal crashes involving drunk drivers is almost four times higher at night than during the day. You should never get behind the wheel after drinking, no matter what time of day it is (don’t drive distracted either), but unfortunately other drivers will. At night, it’s best to put your defensive-driving techniques into practice and stay on high alert.
2.Don’t Drive Drowsy
Driving drowsy is in fact a form of distracted driving, and it’s a very dangerous one. NHTSA indicates that drowsy-driving crashes are most likely to happen between midnight and 6 a.m., so be alert of other sleepy drivers on the road during this time. If you’re feeling drowsy behind the wheel, have some caffeine, pull over to a safe area to take a short rest, roll the windows down periodically for fresh air, or simply pull over and call it quits for the night.
3.Keep a Clean Windshield
A dirty/damaged windshield can scatter light and potentially increase the effects of glare. Be sure to repair any cracks in your windshield and periodically clean your windshield inside and out.
Speeding-related crashes account for 37 percent of nighttime-driving fatalities, says NHTSA—compared with 21 percent of those during daylight hours—due to lower visibility and shorter reaction times. Adjust your speed to take factors like visibility into consideration.
5.Don’t Look Into the Light
You should be constantly scanning the road, but you should never stare or fix your gaze at oncoming headlights. When approaching oncoming vehicles, avoid blinding effects by looking down and to the right, using the right edge of the road or lane markings as a guide to keep you on track.
6.Adjust Your Inside Lighting
Bright dashboard lights up against a dark road makes for a very disorienting drive. Dim your interior lights at night so that controls and gauges are easily visible but not distracting.
7.Check Your Headlights
Is that small third bulb burned out in your left headlight? Has one of your lights started to angle downwards? Do your best to occasionally check your headlights and taillights to ensure they are in good working order.
8.Watch for Pedestrians
Avid walkers and joggers don’t always remember their safety gear, making them extremely difficult to see at night. Always be mindful of possible pedestrians, especially on poorly-lit roads. If you’re at an intersection, be sure to look both ways before you make your move to ensure no one is stepping off the curb.
9.Use High Beams When Appropriate
High beams are a very useful tool in rural areas or on open roads. As a rule, you should turn your high beams off when you’re within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle. You should never have high beams on when you’re following another vehicle.
10.Watch for Wildlife
While deer collisions occur all hours of the day, deer are most active shortly before sunrise and just after sunset. Scan the shoulders of the road for glowing eyes and shadows, be prepared to avoid deer collisions.