Nighttime driving can be a challenge. Whether you are tired or not, your visual abilities may become impaired if you have spent a few hours on the road at night. Brake lights from semi-trucks can get blurry. Oncoming cars can be blinding. Worse, drunk drivers could be on the road making it even more risky.
According to the National Safety Council, the death rates of accident related instances are three times higher than that of the day. This statistic can be a bit mind-jolting seeing as how there are fewer drivers who are out driving in the night.
A big issue is vision, since reaction of a driver depends on vision. Without sunlight, peripheral vision, color recognition and depth perception decreases exponentially which demands more focus as tiredness settles in and the eyes become weighty.
Tips for Safe Night Driving
Perform a Quick Check
Prior to hitting the road, be sure that all exterior lights are working properly. This includes brake lights, front and rear lights and high beams. Make sure your headlights and windows are clean both inside and out. Windows that are dirty can impair vision and add to glare which makes it more challenging to see. The efficiency of headlights is greatly reduced when they are dirty.
Avoid Looking Directly to Oncoming Car Lights
Don’t stare directly into the headlights of oncoming traffic. This can impair your vision when driving during night, even after the car has gone by. If you are able to do so safely, focus on the yellow line while the car is passing or towards the right shoulder.
Use High Beam Headlights
When you are driving on roads that are not lit up and there is no oncoming traffic, you should have your high beam headlights on. However, as soon as you see an oncoming car, cyclist or pedestrian, make sure to turn your headlights to dip. There are Highway Code guidelines that state that you are not to use lights in any way that will cause discomfort, dazzle or impair the vision of other road users. This includes cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders.
Distance your Car from Others
When you are following a car, leave some room between the two of you. Driving too close behind another car can make the driver unsettled. Even if you are great at nighttime driving, this doesn’t mean they are. Plus, it ensures you don’t slam into them if they happen to slam on the brakes and you won’t impair their vision with your headlights in their rearview mirror.
You should have your car lights cleaned regularly. If your lights are smeared with grime, they will be ineffective and could impact what you see on the road. Also, other drivers could find it hard to see you. Ensure your windscreen is cleaned regularly and be sure to fill up your windscreen washer reservoir with a good washer concentrate. When your windscreen is clean, it reduces glare and dazzle.
Driving at night is not something many people feel comfortable doing; however, you can help to make it a bit safer and a better experience by following the tips above. Also, since nighttime driving can be a bit risky, it is a good idea to make sure you have comprehensive auto insurance in case you do have a night driving related accident.