Night Driving: Top 10 Safety Tips for Driving in the Dark

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Autumn is the ideal season for many reasons. After three to four months of scorching heat, early fall allows us to quit pretending summer is an enjoyable time. (Honestly, folks! There’s nothing fun about sweating and being under the constant assault of bugs.) But the fall is a nice buffer between the summer and the unbearable cold of the winter months. From pumpkin spice lattes and apple picking to breaking out the boots and flannel, fall is a time of year that many people look forward to. But the changing season also signals earlier sunsets and worsening weather or road conditions. 

In addition to the science behind the shorter days and longer nights, the end of Daylight Saving Time means that more people drive in the dark. For some areas of the country, getting off of work at 5:30 p.m. means driving home in complete darkness. In addition to finding the nearest pumpkin patch and sprucing up your fall wardrobe, it’s important that you remember safe tips for driving at night. 

What are the dangers of driving at night?

As the light fades, the danger of driving grows. While we drive less at night, traffic death rates are three times greater at night. In addition, seat belt use drops over time—hitting its lowest points between midnight and 3 a.m.

Night blindness

There is a reason you need to pass a vision test before a state will issue you a driver’s license. Many people don’t see very well in the dark. This is a condition referred to as nyctalopia or night blindness. Naturally, night vision and day vision are very different. In the dark your eyes:

  • Are basically color blind, seeing mostly white, grey and black
  • Have lower visual acuity
  • Have a central field of vision that is much less clear
  • Can see moving objects better than stationary objects

While not all cases of night blindness are corrected by prescription glasses, in a large number of people just putting on their glasses can address night blindness. Prescription glasses are mostly in people who are nearsighted. 

10 tips to prepare for driving at night:

  1. Get your annual vision exam. Night blindness affects millions of people. But in many cases, night blindness is corrected by a pair of prescription lenses or contacts. 
  2. Clean your lights and windows. The best way to be seen at night is to make sure you are seen and that you can see. Clean your vehicle’s headlights, taillights, signal lights and all of the windows in your car.
  3. Reduce speed. Speeding is one of the leading causes of car crashes in the United States. How fast a motorist is traveling limits a driver’s ability to see their surroundings. Because darkness naturally reduces vision, slowing down at night can prevent nighttime crashes.
  4. Increase following distances. Space cushions are the space around your vehicle that provides a buffer and allow drivers to react to unexpected changes in the road. 
  5. Don’t drive drowsy. Drowsy driving is dangerous. Falling asleep at the wheel means that you lose complete control of your vehicle. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
  6. Car trouble? Pull off the road completely.One of the most dangerous places on the road is the highway shoulder. With limited visibility and high speeds, highway shoulders are particularly dangerous at night.
  7. Don’t smoke. Beyond the dangers printed on packs, smoking while driving actually increases the likelihood of a car crash.
  8. Turn your headlights on 30 minutes before sunset. Newer vehicles have automatic headlights that can detect when it’s dark outside. However, if your vehicle doesn’t have automatic headlights, it’s important that you remember to turn your headlights on when you get behind the wheel at night. Even twilight limits vision.
  9. Avert your eyes down to the right of the road. Oncoming vehicles driving with their high beams on can leave you unable to see for several seconds or even minutes.
  10. Avoid overdriving your headlights. A car traveling at 70mph takes about 150 feet to stop, and that’s with good brakes. If you are driving so fast that it takes you longer than the beam of your headlights to stop, you are driving too fast.

An Experienced Personal Injury Law Firm Can Help

While the fall brings about feelings of nostalgia, with it comes longer nights. If you or a loved one were involved in a crash at night, contact an experienced personal injury law firm. 

This blog post was submitted by The Carlson Law Firm.

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