Why is night driving so dangerous, besides the fact that it’s dark? It is because vision is the principal factor of reaction time for a driver, and our vision at night becomes severely limited. Our depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision are all compromised when driving at night.
Traffic death rates are three times greater at night than during the day. Yet many of us are unaware of the special hazards of night driving. If you want to be a safer driver at night follow these seven strategies to help minimize the risks of driving at night:
- Twilight is a risky time to drive, because your eyes are continuously changing to adapt to the increasing darkness. Avoid driving during twilight if you can.
- Don’t smoke when driving at night. Smoking is a distraction anytime you drive but at night your vision can be aggravated by the effects of nicotine and carbon monoxide.
- Increase your following distances and reduce your speed while driving at night. Don’t overdrive your headlights. You should be able to stop inside the area illuminated by your headlights.
- If there is another driver ahead of you, keep your headlights on low. When an oncoming vehicle doesn’t lower their beams from high to low, avoid the glare it will produce by watching the right edge of the road. Use the fog line as a guide to keep centered in the lane.
- When taking long road trips that include night driving, make frequent stops. Get out of the car and stretch or get a light snack. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and rest before going on.
- When you have a mechanical issue with your car at night, pull off the road as far as possible. Turn your hazards lights on and leave your dome light on. Stay off the roadway and move passengers away from the area.
- Prepare your car for driving at night by cleaning your headlights, tail lights, signal lights and windows at least once a week. Have your mechanic check the aim of your headlights too.