Driving at night doubles the risk and is more dangerous than driving throughout the day. The human eye needs light to see, which makes a driver’s ability to judge and perceive distance at night impaired. The combination of headlight glare, road lights, darkness, and limited sight can cause problems when driving at night.
Night Driving Safety Tips
According to the NHTSA, fatal crashes due to alcohol impairment are four times higher at night than during the day – 37% compared to 9%. If you’re a frequent nighttime driver, here are a few tips to stay safe on the road.
Your reaction times will be a lot slower at night, and your vision won’t be as good as it is during the day. You need to focus 100% attention on the road to spot hazards and to anticipate what other drivers would do. Do not take your eyes off the road to fiddle with audio controls or use your phone.
Keep a Minimum Safe Distance
Do not make a habit of tailgating the vehicle in front of you. Try to maintain a distance of at least one car length for every ten miles an hour. For instance, if you’re driving at 55 miles an hour, you should have at least six car lengths between you and the car in front of you so you can react accordingly.
Use Your Headlights to Gauge Distance
To follow the tip above, you can gauge the distance between your car and the car in front of you using your headlights. Low beams should give you about 160 feet of illumination, while high beams top out at 500 feet or so. Adequate distance ensures that you’ll have enough room to brake hard. Avoid using your high beam unless you have to.
Always Keep Your Windshield (and car) Clean
Glare from other headlights can momentarily blind you, and a dirty windshield can make matters worse. Limit glare by always making sure that your car’s windshield and window are clean. Wash the windows in and out and wipe off mirrors, taillights, signal lights, and headlamps.
According to Popular Mechanics, car mirrors can reflect the lights more from the headlights behind you. Adjust your rearview mirror and side mirrors so that when beams from the car behind you hit them, they won’t affect your vision. Use the night mode switch on your rearview mirror if the glare is too much.
Dim Your Dashboard Illumination Settings
The contrast between dark and bright can impede your vision. Limit the brightness inside your car by using the lowest setting in your dashboard lights.
Have Your Eyes Checked
See your eye specialist at least once a year. Make sure you don’t have cataracts or other eye conditions that could hinder your vision. Before taking a driving test, you need to show that your eyesight is good enough for driving safely. You must be able to read a license plate number at a distance of about 67 feet, or five car lengths. Reading a plate number that far away can help you conduct a license plate lookup during an accident.
Driving at night carries risk and has a lot of potential dangers lurking around the next exit. Your number one tool should always be to drive carefully, regardless of the present road conditions. Being safe also means avoiding or limiting alcohol intake when you know you’re going to drive. Follow these tips, stay safe, and reach your destination in one piece!
Patrick Peterson is a writer/editor at AutoDetective. Born and raised in the automotive world, Patrick’s a passionate writer who crafts exquisite content pieces about everything related to cars and bikes.