Traffic accidents can occur at any time of day. But while many drivers are comfortable driving during daylight hours, that comfort level drops considerably when the sun goes down and driver visibility is reduced.
According to a 2016 analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s fatality analysis reporting system, 43 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths in the United States in 2014 occurred between the hours of 6 p.m. and 3 a.m. while various factors contributed to those deaths, poor visibility was certainly among them, as many drivers simply don’t see as well when driving at night as they do when driving during the day.
Some motorists who are uncomfortable driving at night avoid the roads altogether once the sun goes down. But that’s not an option for the millions of drivers across the globe who must drive at night for personal or professional reasons. Remaining alert at all times and obeying traffic laws are great ways to stay safe when driving at night, and the following are some additional strategies that can help motorists make nighttime driving more safe.
Test your headlights. Many drivers go years without inspecting or replacing their headlights or headlight bulbs. Conduct routine inspections of headlights and turn them on at night to determine where the lights are pointing. Drivers of older vehicles with plastic lens covers may notice the covers have become cloudy or yellow. Such covers should be polished or replaced. If light from the headlights is being aimed too low or unevenly, adjust their aim on your own or ask your mechanic to do so.
Adjust your interior lighting. Dashboard lighting can sometimes affect driver visibility if the light is too bright. When vehicle dashboard lighting is too bright, the resulting reflection can affect and distract drivers’ eyes, compromising their ability to see the road. Dim dashboard lighting to a level that does not adversely affect your ability to see the road at night, and do the same with GPS systems if they are reflecting too brightly as well.
Don’t allow smoking inside your vehicle. Smoking inside a vehicle can affect driver visibility in various ways. When drivers or their passengers smoke inside a car, the smoke that lingers can dry out drivers’ eyes, making their eyes tired and forcing them to work harder to stay open. In addition, smoke, especially smoke from vaping, can cloud up quickly, making drivers feel as if they’re looking through dense fog just to see the road. Finally, smoking inside a vehicle can stain the interior of vehicle windshields, making it harder for drivers to see out of the windshield to the road ahead.
Schedule routine vision checkups. Nighttime drivers are sometimes betrayed by their own eyes. If it’s been awhile since you have had a vision checkup, schedule one. A new eyeglass or contact prescription may be just what you need to start seeing things more clearly at night.
Nighttime driving can be difficult, but drivers can take steps to make themselves more comfortable when driving after dark.