WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4, 2021
Many of us despise night driving, and nothing compares to having someone else's high beams flash in your eyes. However, beyond the inconvenience, few people grasp how deadly it may be. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities on the road are three times higher at night than during the day. Despite the fact that only a quarter of all driving occurs at night, it accounts for more than half of all fatalities.
In low-light situations, your depth perception, color discrimination, and peripheral vision all deteriorate. At night, you're likely to feel more tired. Consider this basic fact: Low beams often illuminate the road from 160 to 250 feet in front of your automobile, while high beams typically illuminate the road from 350 to 500 feet. Stopping at 60 mph requires more than 200 feet. So there's not a lot of room for error, even with your bright beams on.
However, we can't just sit around and wait for the sun to rise.
Below are ten suggestions for being safe on the road as the sun sets.
1. Inspect and test your lights
Because your headlights are the most significant tool you have at your disposal when driving at night, it's essential that they work properly. Set aside some time before you need your headlights to make sure they're working properly if you haven't used them in a while. Make sure that you know precisely how to turn on the light and high beam if it is a new car or you first drive a certain car, some controllers are more straightforward than others.
With time, the protective plastic covering around your lights can become dusty. The dirt from the road can impede and disperse or reduce the light, and inside the housing, humidity can sometimes build up. When you know that you will drive at night, take time to check the cover and make sure that it is clean.
Finally, ensure your headlights are pointed in the right direction. They will not properly illuminate the road in front of you if they are set too high or too low. Depending on your car's make and model, altering the angle of your headlights may be simple enough to perform on your own. You may, however, discover that a fast trip to the mechanic is required.
2. Increase your follow distance and reduce speed
Driving at night limits your visibility, which can cause your reaction time to be delayed. Although your headlights assist you in seeing the road, they can only go so far. Furthermore, if you're following another car, you should be aware that they're in the same predicament as you. That is, their reaction time is also lowered.
That's why it's critical to give oneself enough space to properly assess and react to a situation. The "two-second rule" is commonly repeated as the minimum safe following distance, however, at night, you should raise it to at least three or four seconds.
Traveling at a high rate of speed makes it significantly more difficult to stop or modify your direction because crises might swiftly emerge from the darkness at night. As a result, slowing down, in general, is a crucial aspect of being safe while driving at night.
3. Be extra cautious of other drivers
Although driving at night may test your own abilities, it's also crucial to be mindful of the challenges that other drivers are encountering and bringing to the table. Even if there are fewer automobiles on the road at night, it is just as crucial, if not more so, to keep an eye out for those who share it.
Drunk drivers can be encountered at any time of day, although they are more common at night. Drowsy driving is the same way; people might fall asleep in broad daylight, but it generally happens at night. Finally, if you have difficulty seeing at night, you must assume that others do as well.
Given all of these considerations, it's critical to remain aware of other vehicles when driving at night.
4. Clean your windshield and mirrors
During the day, pollutants like handprints, smudge soils, dirt, and smears may go unnoticed, but at night, contaminants like dirt, handprints, smudge soils, and smears make it much more difficult to see. They can scatter light from street lights and headlights, resulting in hotspots, or areas where dirty glass causes visual distortions.
Mirrors must also be kept clean in order to provide the greatest possible view, but if they are oriented wrongly, they can make driving more difficult. Adjust your rear-view mirrors, particularly the center one, so that headlights from behind don't reflect straight into your eyes. Many rear-view mirrors have a night mode that dims any light it picks up.
5. Don't stare into oncoming lights
Make every effort to avoid staring directly into oncoming traffic's headlights. The pupils of your eyes widen as they acclimate to low light situations, allowing more light in. This means that a rapid, powerful beam of light, such as one from an approaching car, can easily impair your night vision and make it impossible to see for several moments afterward. Instead of looking straight ahead, look down and to the right for a few moments and use the white line to keep you on track.
6. Be extra cautious of wildlife
While there is usually less traffic on the roadways at night, nocturnal creatures may be out in force, especially in more rural locations. Deer, raccoons, armadillos, wild pigs, opossums, and other animals are frequently seen on and around roads, so keep aware of your own safety and the safety of the animals!
Pay attention and be prepared to stop when your way takes you through dark and twisty rural roads. If you want to try to prevent an animal that springs in front of your car, then you can lessen your speed in advance to enable a great deal of stop-up time. You may not be able to see the full animal right away, but as your headlights bounce off their retinas, keep an eye out for their bright eyes.
7. Don't allow yourself to become distracted
While you should always try to keep distractions to a minimum while driving, this is especially true at night. Glancing at your phone during the night might impair your vision, making it much more difficult to ensure that the road is clean. Simply said, you require as much response time and attentiveness as possible.
8. Plan for the route with the best lighting
If at all necessary, schedule your travels ahead of time to reduce the amount of time you spend traveling at night. Of course, this isn't always possible, but if you make a conscious effort, you might be able to limit the number of outings.
If you absolutely must drive at night, consider the many route options available to you. You may discover that certain paths have better lighting; perhaps they pass through an area of town with more street lights (or better street lights). Even if these are a little longer, a well-lit option can be worth it.
9. Avoid driving when drowsy
Driving sleepiness is unbelievably risky and has many of the same adverse effects as you are intoxicated. Your reaction time is reduced, and if you nod for a brief second you can easily lose control of your vehicle. While strategies like coffee may occasionally work for some, the truth is that there is no safe and effective method for all.
As a result, knowing your degree of weariness before getting behind the wheel is critical. If you're afraid you'll fall asleep, choose another way home or wait it out and rest where you are if you can. If you grow drowsy behind the wheel and see yourself drifting off, find a safe location to pull over.
10. Keep the cabin lights dim
Interior lights can interfere with your night vision, making it more difficult to see what's going on on the road. Bright dash or dome lights can make it difficult for your eyes to adjust to the darkness outside the automobile.
Dim your dashboard lights as much as possible, and ask passengers to turn off the map and dome lights, or at the very least direct them away from your field of sight.
Hopefully, you won't have any problems on your next late-night car journey. Preparation, on the other hand, goes a long way toward making your road travels safer. And adopting all of these suggestions can help you drive more calmly and enjoyably at night.