Despite there being less traffic, more car accidents occur at night than at any other time. This is due to several factors, such as decreased visibility and an increased number of tired and otherwise impaired drivers. Protect yourself from falling into nighttime driving traps by following these five simple rules for driving at night.
Watch Your Lights
Many cars have headlights that turn on and off automatically, but you should still be aware of your lights for times when you may need to turn them on or off manually. Some cars have daytime running lights that turn on automatically but have manual headlights for nighttime use, which the driver needs to turn on. When using your brights, you’ll need to dim your lights when meeting or closely following traffic.
If your headlights are not illuminating the road properly, they could be out of alignment or need cleaning. Make sure to regularly clean and service your headlights.
During times of heavy fog, you may want to use fog lights to reduce glare. It’s worth investing in a set of fog lights if your car doesn’t have them built in.
Visibility isn’t just about having your headlights on. Interior lights in the car should be off or at least very dim. How far you can see also depends on your eyes. Make sure to have regular eye tests, especially if you have existing vision issues, and get the proper prescription or glasses from your optometrist. One way to see better at night is to wear glasses with anti-reflective lenses.
Stay Awake and Alert
Being sleepy makes it hard to focus, and keeping your eyes open too long can cause eye strain that decreases visibility. As soon as you start feeling tired or having trouble seeing, pull over and take a nap. Your destination can wait! If there isn’t a safe place to pull over, coffee or a caffeine pill will help you out in a pinch.
Use a Steering Guide
If you’re having trouble seeing the road ahead, use a lane line or the edge of the road as a guide. This will give you an idea of upcoming turns. The right edge of the road is a good place to look to avoid getting blinded by headlights from oncoming traffic.
Drive Extra Safely
This goes without saying, but the normal rules of the road still apply at night. Stay off your cell phone. Don’t text and drive. Don’t drink and drive. Smoking in the car is also a visibility hazard as well as a distraction.
As far as obeying traffic laws, it’s OK to drive slower at night when visibility is limited. You should try to keep extra car lengths between your car and the car in front of you. However, following a safe distance behind another car with its headlights on is a great trick to extend your visibility.
Now that you know these rules, you’re already that much safer driving on the road at night. Remember to use defensive driving techniques and be aware of other drivers that may be impaired. Share these tips with friends so everyone will be safer driving at night.