When the sun goes down, extra dangers arise on the road. From compromised visibility to impaired drivers, there are plenty of hazards to watch out for.
Here we've highlighted some of the major risk factors and how to overcome them when driving at night.
Dark conditions are not ideal for human eyes. As we age, our ability to see clearly at night deteriorates. Fortunately, there are a few key factors that can help improve your vision and keep you safe on the road:
- Get your vision checked regularly. Some drivers may be able to read street signs clearly during the day but the cover of darkness may hinder your visibility.
- Try anti-glare lenses. If you wear glasses, this can reduce strain from exterior lights.
- Keep headlights clean and bright. Dim bulbs or cloudy covers can reduce visibility.
- Avert your eyes from oncoming traffic. This will prevent the temporary blindness that comes from your eyes trying to adjust to the bright lights.
- Keep your windshield clean. Sometimes dust can accumulate on the inside of your windshield that you may not notice during the day. This dust can catch the light from oncoming cars' headlights and make it difficult for you to see.
- Dim the lights on your dash. Bright interior lights can hinder your visibility of things outside your vehicle.
Rush Hour Risks
Peak evening traffic hours can be the most dangerous time to be on the road. Even during summer when it's not quite dark yet, driving during rush hour can be treacherous. Between the slow stop-and-go movement and frustrations of other drivers, this is not the time to let your mind wander.
Try to focus on the following:
- Stay calm by listening to a book or your favorite music.
- Reduce your speed.
- Don't tailgate.
- Stay alert and drive use defensive driving techniques.
- Avoid using your phone or other distracting behavior.
According to a recent study published by the National Sleep Foundation, sleep-deprived drivers are the cause of 6,400 deaths and 50,000 serious injuries annually on U.S. roads.
Whether you're driving a long distance or just commuting home from work, use these tips to avoid drowsy driving:
- Get a good night's sleep before you hit the road.
- Carpool with others so you can take turns driving.
- Take breaks to divide up long drives.
- Pull over safely and take a nap.
- Avoid drivers who are swerving or drifting.
Driving Under the Influence
Anyone under the influence of drugs or alcohol is unsafe to get behind the wheel. The risk of sharing the road with an impaired driver increases at night as people are leaving restaurants and bars.
Always be vigilant for impaired drivers, and NEVER get behind the wheel if you've been drinking. Should you suspect someone else on the road is driving impaired, call 911 immediately.
Whether it's texting, eating, or fiddling with the radio, anything that removes your attention from the act of driving is considered a distraction. Texting and driving is the most dangerous of these acts, as it causes all three types of distractions—visual, cognitive, and physical. Taking your attention from the road is dangerous day or night.
The best way to stay safe? Put down the phone and drive. For more information, check out the rest of our Distracted Driving section, and take the pledge to keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.