Driving at night presents unique challenges that day time drivers will not face. Traffic fatalities are three times more likely to occur while it is dark. Still, many people remain unaware of the unique safety hazards of driving at night. More importantly, many people don’t know what they are supposed to do differently when driving at night. The Road to Zero Campaign that the DOT has been running lately asks that drivers practice safe night driving habits, but it provides few details about what that means, exactly. Here are some tips for night driving safety.
Make Sure others Can See You!
Without a doubt, one of the most important things to remember while driving at night is visibility. Keeping your car visible at night is a leading prevention of accidents and road fatalities. Make sure that all of your vehicle’s exterior lights are in proper working order. If you need to pull over, turn on your hazard lights; pull as far off the road as you can. If you are experiencing a breakdown or another roadside emergency, use reflective orange triangles or road flares while you wait for assistance. Leave your lights and hazard lights on if they continue to function after an accident. You should always keep a flashlight in your car in case of a nighttime accident or emergency.
When possible, avoid driving at night. If you must drive at night, choose to travel on well lit roads as much as possible.
Don’t Hinder Other Drivers
Use your high beams with caution and always turn them off when another car is approaching. You should never follow another car closely, especially at night, but keep a longer distance at night in order to keep from blinding the driver in front of you with your lights.
If another driver passes you and does not turn off his or her brights, do not flash your lights at them. Flashing your high beams at another driver at night can cause them to have an accident. If another driver fails to lower bright lights when passing, look toward the white line on the right side of the road until they have passed. This will help you to avoid damaging your eyes or becoming temporarily blinded.
Take Care of Yourself
You should always avoid driving while you are tired when possible. However, driving at night is tiring. Keep your eyes moving and on alert while on the road and give your eyes a chance to recover as often as you can with frequent breaks. If you can, travel with a companion to help break up long trips and take turns driving. Your companion should also take care of tasks that can easily distract you such as navigation, radio operation, or answering cell phones.
Keep lights on the interior of the vehicle off as much as possible. Turning on a dome light increases glare and decreases road visibility.If you are vision impaired, have your eyes checked regularly. Ask your doctor or eye care professional about putting anti-reflective (AR) coating on your eyeglasses. This thin coating can help to reduce internal reflections on your lenses. These lenses also transmit more light when the AR coating is applied; so it will improve your vision during the night and help you visualize details more clearly.
Take Care of Your Vehicle
Make sure all of the external lights are clean and unobstructed and clean the inside and outside of your windshield before you set out on a night drive. Keep mirrors clean and take advantage of the night driving setting on your mirrors by flipping them to reduce glare from the lights behind you. If someone is following you too closely and impairing your vision with their headlights, pull over and allow them to pass.
Exercise Caution While Driving at Night
It is important to regulate your speed and following distance at night. Approach night driving with more caution because of decreased visibility. Even the best drivers can not see as well during the night and this can decrease reaction time. Give yourself a better opportunity to stop or slow down if you do spot a hazard. Following rules for night driving may be frustrating because not everyone takes the same precautions or treat others with the same courtesy. Keep in mind that you are taking these precautions to keep yourself safe.
Driving at night comes with extra hazards because people are more likely to be driving while impaired, distracted and/or fatigued. If you keep in mind that you are only practicing defensive night driving techniques to prevent others from injuring you, you will find that it is much less frustrating to follow these best practices. If you happen to get into an accident while night time driving, contacting Lerner and Rowe becomes a necessity. Hopefully following these night time driving tips can help you become a smarter and safer night time driver.
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