Have you ever thought about the unique dangers of driving at night? If you’re like most drivers, the answer is probably no. But according to the National Safety Council [PDF], traffic death rates are almost three times greater at night than during the day.
Driving at night is more dangerous for several reasons. In addition to being able to see less at night, your depth perception and peripheral vision are also severely limited at night. All of these can have a major impact on your reaction time on the road.
In addition to limited visibility at night, most of us are usually more fatigued at night, which can make concentrating on the road more difficult. This driving reality, accompanied with the stress of your day-to-day activities, can also distract you and put you at a higher risk for a traffic accident.
Luckily, you can take a few steps to protect yourself and minimize the dangers of driving at night. Here are 5 driving safety tips for driving at night to help you stay safe on the road:
Before you drive at night, make sure your headlights, taillights and signal lights are clean and working properly. If you’re driving alone, you can back up to a shop window, press your brakes, and watch your rearview mirror for your brake lights to show in the window’s reflection. You should also consider taking your car to the shop and making sure your headlights are properly aimed. Mis-aimed headlights can blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.
While you should never use your cell phone while driving or engage in other distracted driving activities, these behaviors should be particularly avoided at night when your visibility is poor and already reduced.
Even if you are on a road that you are familiar with, you should reduce your speed and increase the distance between the car in front of you when driving at night. This will give you more space and time to react in case the car in front of you does something unexpected.
Even if it’s dusk, it is always better to turn on your headlights. While headlights may not help you see the road better, they will make it easier for other drivers to see you. But remember to keep your headlights on low beams so you don’t blind the drivers in front of you.
As people get older, it is more important than ever to have your eyes checked every year for conditions such as cataracts that can affect night time driving. If you wear glasses, you should talk to your eye-care provider about special anti-glare glasses that can help you see better at night.