Tips for Safely Driving Your Car at Night
Driving at night can be very nerve wracking, even for experienced drivers. The reduced visibility that comes in the night can cause problems for drivers of all ages, whether it’s glare from lights in the surrounding area or not enough lighting in general.
According to the National Safety Council, only a quarter of all driving occurs at night, but half of all traffic deaths occur at night. So what can drivers do to stay safe if they need to drive at night?
Get Lots of Rest
First and foremost, if you’ll be driving at night, it’s extremely important to make sure you’ll be well rested during the drive. Even if a driver takes all other steps to drive safely at night, those benefits will be offset if they doze off behind the wheel.
Since there’s no test like a breathalyzer to screen drivers for drowsiness and drowsiness isn’t always reported consistently in accident reports, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how often drowsy driving occurs. But there is plenty of data to suggest that it’s alarmingly common. The NHTSA estimates that 91,000 crashes reported to police in 2017 involved drowsy driving, resulting in about 50,000 injuries that year. In 2019, they estimated drowsy driving caused 697 deaths nationwide.
The more tired a person is, the more likely it is they will get into a car crash. Drowsiness is often considered as significant of an impairment as drunk driving because of the way it impacts things like hand-eye coordination and reaction time. According to The Sleep Foundation, being awake for 18 hours has effects similar to that of having a blood alcohol content level of 0.05 and being awake for 20 hours is similar to having a BAC of 0.08, the legal limit in many states.
Care For Your Headlights
In addition to being well rested, good visibility is one of the most important parts of safely driving at night and that means taking good care of your headlights. Not only do you need to make sure they are fully functional, you need to make sure they are clean and unobstructed. Sometimes, headlights can get blocked by things like snow or dirt, which can diminish their brightness.
Also, it’s good to ask your mechanic if your headlights are positioned correctly. If headlights are angled too low, you won’t be getting their full illumination, and if they’re angled too high, they could be too bright to oncoming drivers. Even among new cars, it’s surprisingly common to find headlights that aren’t angled correctly.
Wondering if you should be using your high beams? Go for it as long as there isn’t a lot of oncoming traffic. If you see another car heading toward you, do the driver a favor and turn the high beams down.
Check Your Interior Lights
Exterior lights like headlights are essential for driving at night, but don’t forget about the interior lights in your car. Lights from things like your car’s dashboard can potentially create glare that makes it difficult to see clearly when driving at night. If necessary, dim those interior lights.
Carefully Watch Your Surroundings
Being aware of your surroundings is an essential part of safe driving at any time of day, but it’s absolutely crucial at night. Not only do you need to keep an eye out for things like pedestrians and other drivers, there’s also a higher chance that other drivers on the road might be impaired. In some areas, there may be animals near the road who are more active at night. Even if it doesn’t seem like there is a lot of other traffic, you never know when something could come up unexpectedly.
Clean Your Windshield
It’s hard enough to see clearly at night even under the best circumstances. Make it a bit easier on yourself by keeping your windshield nice and clean. Dirty windshields or cracks in the windshield can potentially make glare even worse.
Slow Down and Watch Your Following Distance
This is another bit of advice that is very important regardless of which time of day you’re driving, but it’s particularly important at night. Approximately 37% of all fatal traffic crashes that occur during the night are related to speed. This is because visibility is reduced at night and if you’re speeding, you’ll have less time to react to something ahead of you, whether it’s another car, a pedestrian, a cyclist, or an animal in the road.
Contact a Michigan Car Accident Lawyer
Car accidents can be absolutely devastating whether they happen during the day or late at night. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a car accident lawyer. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we’re highly experienced in helping the victims of Michigan car accidents and are ready to answer any questions you have about your case and work with you to get all of the compensation you need. Contact us today to get started.
Image: iStock / sduben