The sun dips below the horizon, the stars and moon come out, and streetlights flare on. It’s night, but you’re still on the road due to your busy schedule. Driving at night is often considered a necessary nuisance by many. However, the characteristics of nighttime driving that make it annoying can also make it dangerous.
Risks of Nighttime Driving
Even though only a quarter of driving occurs at night, over half of driving fatalities occur after the sun goes down. In fact, driving at night makes you three times as likely to get in a fatal wreck, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The reason for this is the lower light levels impact your ability to determine distances, distinguish colors, and see out the corners of your eyes.
What’s more, people tend to be sleepier at night than during the day. The brain is designed to be more wakeful when the sun is out. Once the sun sets, that’s the brain’s signal to start preparing to rest, making you sleepy. On the road, this can be dangerous since driver fatigue results in an estimated 100,000 vehicle crashes per year.
Staying Safe After Dusk
While driving at night has its dangers, many of us find ourselves on the road after (or before) daylight hours anyway. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to keep yourself safe in the dark when necessity calls you out onto the road at night:
- Adjust your headlights: Most vehicles come with their headlights somewhat skewed. Before driving at night, it is important to make sure your headlights are aimed properly.
- Dim interior lights: If you have bright dashboard and instrument panel lights, it will make the dark outside environment harder to see as they glare into your eyes. Where possible, keep interior lights dim.
- Keep your vehicle clean: Dirty mirrors, windshields, and headlights can make it much harder to see at night, especially when outside lights glare off of smears and smudges on the glass. Clean these with a cloth or, in a pinch, a newspaper.
- Keep your eyes moving: To combat eye fatigue, it is recommended that you keep your eyes busy. A good trick is to systematically glance at your rearview mirrors and dashboard.
- Use clear, non-reflective glasses: If you wear glasses, keep the glare out of your eyes with clear, anti-reflective lenses. Also, do not wear sunglasses at night.
- Don’t stare at bright lights: Ideally, oncoming traffic should dim their lights when they approach you on the road, but if they don’t, looking to the side of their lights can help you see.
- Slow down: Even with the brightest of high beams, you will only have 2-3 seconds at most to respond to anything you see ahead on the highway. To make up for your lack of visibility, slow down. This will increase your odds of reacting to dangers whenever they present themselves.
Safe driving is crucial to avoiding accidents at night, but there is always room for human error. Another way to keep you safe on the road at night is with a driver alert system such as the RD-140 radar system. This system is designed to give you the advance warning you need to respond to threats on the road. For more information, contact Safe Drive Systems today.