Driving at night is a challenge for us all, and it can be a unique struggle for many older drivers.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the ways we can mitigate the dangers of night driving. First, though, let’s learn more about why night diving can be so dangerous.
Why Is Night Driving So Dangerous?
Extra caution is necessary when night driving for several reasons:
- Fatigue: Road trips, long days at work, or exciting concerts that last until the wee hours can cause people to drive when they’re actually too tired.
- Driving impaired: Excessive drinking and drug use tends to happen more at night than in the day.
- Limited vision: Humans aren’t nocturnal and have trouble seeing at night. Distracting dash lights and high beams from other cars can complicate vision even more.
Tips for Improving Safety When Driving at Night
Turn Down Your Dash Lights
On newer cars especially, dash lights can be quite numerous and extremely bright. This is distracting. Fortunately, for the most part, you won’t need to reference your dash lights very much (especially when using cruise on the highway). Therefore, it’s acceptable to turn them down.
By turning down your dash lights, your eyes will be better able to focus on the important lights on the road — your car’s own headlight beams, brake lights from other cars, road markers, highway lines, street lamps, and other guides.
Whenever you’re feeling inhibited when driving — whether it’s due to limited visibility at night, poor weather conditions, or anything else — it’s always smart to slow your speed. Slowing down at least 5mph is a good place to start.
Fix Your Headlights, if Necessary
When stopped, take time to check out your vehicle’s headlights. Often, drivers assume their poor visibility is due to their own vision challenges or limited reflective highway markers, but it could simply be a matter of dirty or broken headlights.
It’s always an option to clean and polish your headlights, taking the time to remove any dirt (or bugs!) that have accumulated there. If you have a broken headlight, be sure to get it replaced right away.
Pick Well-Lit Roads When You Have a Choice
Main street or backroads?
At night, always choose the roadways with better lighting. Streetlights in urban or residential areas can make driving at night much easier. While there’s usually less traffic on backroads, these areas are not generally well-lit and may end up causing more visibility problems and accidents as a result.
Try to Avoid Driving at Night Period
In the end, the best way to avoid night vision problems is to not drive at night at all.
It’s certainly understandable that sometimes, you have to drive at night. But if you’re planning a road trip, for example, it’s a much better idea to plot your route ahead of time, minimizing the time periods you’ll be driving in the dark.
Furthermore, if the weather is poor and it’s nighttime, remember that visibility conditions will be exacerbated even more. Snow, sleet, and rain can be extremely difficult to see through when it’s dark out. Add to that the possibility of slippery roads, and you may have a recipe for disaster.
Whenever possible, completely avoid driving at night or in rain, snow, sleet or fog.
Fortunately, most people don’t need to drive at night very often. In fact, “night driving” for most people occurs from 7 pm to 11 pm and not in the wee hours of the morning. Still, taking the above precautions when night driving will almost certainly improve your chances of avoiding an accident.