With limited daylight hours and often cloudy conditions, winter in our region may mean you are driving in the dark on your way to and from work. As a motorist, you know that driving in the dawn or dusk has its own hazards. So does nighttime driving, for many of the same reasons. The risk of a car crash is three times greater at night, according to the National Safety Council. Below, we discuss some of the hazards particular to nighttime driving, and what you can do to prevent accidents.
NIGHTTIME DRIVING HAZARDS
The darkness of driving at night brings with it the following challenges:
- Limited visibility
- Glare from headlights
- Fatigue and drowsiness
- Limited depth perception
- Limited peripheral vision
Because you can't see as far in front of you or to the side as you can during the day, you generally have less time to react to something in the road at night. Compromised peripheral vision makes it difficult to see pedestrians, animals and other vehicles beside your car.
Drunk drivers are also more likely to be on the road at night. In the evening, you're sharing the road with the post-happy hour crowd, add to that limited light and after-work traffic, and an accident may become likely. If you are driving very late at night, say between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m., you're sharing the road with people who have been closing out the night at bars. In complete darkness, all your faculties are needed to drive safely, and a drunk driver is going to be dealing with the hazards of nighttime driving in addition to slowed reaction time, impaired judgement and blurred vision.
HOW TO BE A SAFER NIGHTTIME DRIVER
Here are a few tips to reduce your risk of a crash:
- Get an eye exam if night driving seems blurrier or dimmer than normal. An annual eye exam is recommended for people age 60 and older, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and every two years for adults under 60. It is possible that a change in your vision is worsening night driving, and your eye doctor can determine if you need glasses or an updated prescription.
- Make sure your headlights are aimed correctly. Your mechanic can do this for you, or you can use a reputable online resource or your owner's manual to do it yourself.
- Don't drive distracted. Your attention should be on the task at hand anytime you are behind the wheel, but focus can be especially important from dusk till dawn. Don't text or use your phone. Avoid adjusting the radio or navigation. Keep your eyes, hands and mind on the task of driving and you'll be better prepared for unforeseen circumstances.
- Dim dashboard lights. Very bright dashboards and in-dash systems can make it difficult for you to see the darkened road. Use the adjuster to dim them slightly.
- Don't stare into oncoming headlights. Doing so causes your eyes to adjust to lighter situations, making it seem much darker when you look back at the road. Keep your eyes ahead of you.
- Reduce speed when appropriate. If there is a slowdown, increased vehicle volume, icy roads or other conditions that you feel require slower speeds, then listen to that instinct. Reducing your speed gives you more time to react.
- Prioritize 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Night driving is going to amplify any tiredness you feel because we are used to sleeping when it gets dark. Drowsy driving is really dangerous, similar in effect to drunk driving. Make it a point to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
While nothing can eliminate the possibility of a motor vehicle accident, you can reduce your risk with these precautions.
IF SOMEONE ELSE CAUSED THE ACCIDENT
When you or a loved one has been injured in a car wreck caused by someone else's carelessness, you may be entitled to pursue compensation and justice through a claim handled by experienced attorney Mark Troy. To find out if you have a case, please call Troy Law Firm in Charleston, WV, for a complimentary consultation: (304) 315-2299. Mr. Troy proudly advocates for accident victims from across our region, including Huntington, and Ashland and Prestonsburg, Kentucky.