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There are no bad cars, only bad drivers. It's up to the operator to stay alert, especially at night, when road dangers wax and alertness wanes.
According to the National Safety Council, vehicle death rates at night are three times higher than during the day. This is an especially mind-jolting statistic considering fewer drivers occupy the roads after dusk.
One problem is vision. Almost 90% of a driver's reaction depends on it. Without the favor of sunlight, depth perception, peripheral vision, and color recognition plummet, demanding more sharpened focus at a time when weariness begins to weight the eyes.
Night also attracts greater numbers of booze-addled drivers and roaming wildlife, creating an almost video game-like setting of endless distractions.
Fortunately, there are many precautions you can take to heighten your driving safety.
Night Driving Safety Tips
- Keep headlights on one hour before dusk and one hour after dawn to increase your vehicle's visibility.
- Make sure headlights are properly aligned. Askew headlights can diminish road coverage and blind oncoming traffic.
- Conduct regular maintenance checks to assure all signal and brake lights are functioning properly.
- Wipe windshield's interior to eliminate glare.
- Use low beams when driving through fog.
- Don't drink and drive. This sounds obvious, but even if you're not boozing heavily, bear in mind that just one drink can promote sleepiness.
- Be extra alert when driving at night on weekends. Drunk-driver-related car fatalities are at their highest on Friday and Saturday nights.
- Don't outdrive the beams of your headlights. In other words, reduce your speed.
- Maintain a greater-than-normal distance from the car in front of you. Distances are more difficult to gauge at night.
- Switch to low beams when you're behind someone so you don't blind them.
- To avoid glare from oncoming traffic, focus eyes on the right edge of the road.
- Look for signs of oncoming traffic. Watch for headlight flashes when approaching hills or hairpin curves.
- Don't ignore eye fatigue. Address immediately with frequent stops and brisk walks. Or pull into a rest area and catch a nap.
- Stem smoking urges. Cigarette smoke clouds vision.
- Be aware that deer travel in herds. If you spy one, reduce your speed. Chances are good that more deer are lurking just out of sight.
- If your car fails, pull it off the road as far as possible. Turn on emergency lights and the inner dome light and don't wander. Stay in the car until assistance arrives.
- Don't play stranger with your optometrist. Eye exams are recommended once every three years for drivers younger than 40; every two years for drivers between 41 to 60; and once a year for drivers older than 60. If you have perfect vision but have trouble seeing at night, simple glasses with anti-reflective lenses could help.
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