Driving at night is more dangerous than people recognize. While there are safety practices that can help reduce your risk, a large number of severe and fatal collisions occur every day after the sun goes down.
Limited visibility, increased animal activity and more drunk drivers on the road are all issues that put your safety at particular risk when driving after dark. No actions that you take will eliminate the possibility of a crash when driving during the dark hours of the day, but the four tips below can hope you substantially reduce your risk.
1. Keep your headlights and turn signals operational
It can be time-consuming to stop in to see a mechanic over a burned-out turn signal, brake light or headlight. However, if you don’t ensure that both of your headlights as well as all of your blinkers and brake lights work, other people may fail to see you at night or they may misjudge what you intend to do. Both of those scenarios could potentially lead to a wreck.
2. Minimize lights in the cabin
Any other light next to or behind you is going to affect your ability to monitor the road in front of you safely. Bright lights will affect your night vision and serve as forms of both visual and cognitive distraction. Having passengers dim their phones and telling people that they cannot turn on the cabin lights while you drive can help you keep your focus outside the vehicle for the safety of everyone inside it.
3. Know when to use your brights or high beams
If you only ever drive in urban areas, then you likely won’t need to worry about using your high beams because of the street lights and heavier traffic. However, when you are in the country, your high beams can help you see the road in front of you far better under certain circumstances.
You can potentially spot a pedestrian before you encounter them or notice animals before they run out into the road. You’ll need to turn these beams off when oncoming traffic is approaching you. If someone with their high beams on does not turn them off when they approach your vehicle, you can watch the white line on the right edge of your lane to ensure that you drive appropriately without these bright lights severely diminishing your night vision.
4. Be honest about your fatigue
When you feel tired and try to drive, you have a longer reaction time and more difficulty making the best choices. Sleep deprivation affects cognitive abilities and motor function, both of which are key for safe driving. If you are truly exhausted, even caffeine won’t help you stay safe on the road.
Recognizing your own limits and employing other safety practices can help you minimize the possibility of getting hurt in a nighttime car crash.