The Top Tips for Safe Driving at Night
Accidents happen at a much higher rate at night than during the day. The reason is obvious – it’s harder to see at night. With a lower level of visibility, the risk of an accident increases. Whether you can’t see what’s in front of you or you can’t stop fast enough, the risks of an accident are higher. Fortunately, there are many ways you can stay safe while driving at night.
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Make Sure Your Lights Work
Periodically, check your headlights and taillights. Make sure they both work and are angled properly. Use this time to check the turn signals too. Ask someone else to look at your lights – are they blinding? This could cause someone else to crash because they can’t focus after seeing your lights.
Do the speed limit, but don’t go over it at night. You need extra time to be able to stop your vehicle. If you are going over the speed limit, it could be harder to stop on a dime. Try using the 3-second rule. You shouldn’t pass a landmark the car in front of you passes in less than 3 seconds. If you do, you are going too fast.
Don’t Drive Tired
Driving tired is just as risky as driving drunk. If you have been up an excessive amount of time, wait until you get some sleep to get on the road. Studies show that drivers that have been up for 18 hours have the reaction time of a person that has been drinking. If you are tired and have to drive, roll the windows down, play some music, and pay close attention to how you feel, pulling over if necessary.
Don’t Look Straight Ahead
You probably assume you should look straight ahead when driving, but at nighttime, this could put you at risk of an accident. When cars are coming at you, it’s best to look to the right at a downward angle. A good place to focus is the right lane marking. You only need to do this when faced with an oncoming vehicle, putting your focus back straight ahead as soon as you can.
Make Sure Your Windshield is Clean
Your windshield may seem just fine during the day, but the nighttime glare can tell a different story. Take the time to clean both the inside and outside of the windshield. If you notice any dust or condensation on the windows or windshield, pull over and clean it. This simple act makes it easier to see and decreases the risk of an accident.
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Watch your Lights Inside
It’s common sense to think of your exterior lights when driving at night, but your interior lights play a role too. If the lights inside your car, especially your dashboard, are too bright, it can make your vision distorted. As you look from inside your car to the road, it may take a few seconds for your eyes to adjust. An accident can occur within those few seconds, so don’t take a chance. Adjust all lighting so that it’s dim enough for your eyes to focus, but bright enough for you to see the controls.
It’s harder to see obstacles and issues at night. Slow down and keep your eyes peeled on both sides of the road. Watch for pedestrians and wildlife, especially in wooded areas. Both people and animals can dart out in front of your car in the blink of an eye. Try not to swerve, but rather slow down or stop completely. If you swerve, you put yourself and the other cars on the road at risk of an accident.
Stop any Distractions
Cellphones, people, and music can all cause distractions while driving. Your reaction time and visibility may already be compromised – don’t make it worse by adding distractions. Put your cellphone in your glovebox and turn the notifications off. Ask the passengers in your car to keep noise to a minimum and keep your music to a low volume. This allows you to keep your focus on the road rather than on what is going on inside your car.
If you drink, don’t drive. If you drive at night, watch out for others that drink and drive. If you notice any erratic behavior, report it to the police, after pulling over on the side of the road. If you had a drink or two, ride with someone else or call a rideshare company. Alcohol lowers your reaction time, skews your judgment, and puts you at risk of breaking the law. It’s not worth the chance.
Driving at night is riskier than driving during the day. You have to up your game and always be alert. Take as many precautions as you can and if you are ever in doubt – pull over until you know it is safe to drive.
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