Why should you drive slower at night as opposed to day time? The fact is that driving at night is simply more dangerous.
While only about a quarter of our time is dedicated to nighttime driving, 50% of traffic fatalities occur at night.
Before you hit the roads when the sun sets, consider these ten simple tips on how to drive at night.
Driving at Night Tips
1. Be well rested
One of the most important tips for driving at night is to be well-rested. The lack of light naturally affects your body’s internal clock causing drowsiness and low levels of alertness.
If you can, sneak in a quick nap before doing any night car driving. Crank up the air conditioning or turn up the radio if you find yourself getting sleepy.
If you need to, pull over to somewhere safe so you can walk around, grab a snack, and shake off the drowsiness.
2. Drive slower
One of the main reasons why you should drive slower at night is because of slower reaction times.
With limited visibility, reacting to hazards, traffic signs, and other vehicles takes longer. By driving slower, you’ll have more time to make the appropriate actions when necessary.
Driving slower at night is especially crucial when driving in bad weather, which further limits your visibility even more.
3. Dim internal dashboard lights
Internal dashboard lights that are too bright, can distract your eyes from the road. The bright lights can also be disorienting when glancing back and forth from the dashboard to the street.
This is especially the case in many of the modern cars that have extremely bright LED smart screens. When driving at night, you should adjust the settings so that you can see the key controls, while at the same time not be blinded.
4. Be careful with oncoming lights
When you are driving at night, be cautious with oncoming lights. Do not stare directly at the lights as you’ll be momentarily blinded.
Instead, shift your eyes to the right, closer to the exterior lane marking. Follow that exterior lane to guide your car until the oncoming driver passes.
5. Look out for animals
It’s not uncommon for animals to cross highways during night time. Animal size can vary, from small rabbits to large elk or moose. While you may escape damages with the smaller animals, colliding with an elk or moose could result in significant damages and even injuries.
Spotting animals in the dark can be tricky. Look for tiny bright spots when scanning the roads. Often these spots are reflections of your headlights into the animal’s eyes, indicating you should slow down.
6. Scan far ahead and check mirrors
Scanning far ahead is good driving practice, whether in daytime or night. However, it’s that much more important during the night due to the reduced visibility.
Low beams typically reach up to 250 feet ahead while high beams reach up to 500 feet. Periodically scan as far as you can so you can avoid any potential hazards.
Additionally, check your mirrors every 5-8 seconds. Especially for highway driving, you can drive all night; but without glancing at your mirrors, it can be extremely dangerous.
7. Using your high beams
Another important tip on how to drive a car at night is to utilize your high beams.
In general, you need to turn on your high beams when driving in areas with limited street lighting. Places outside the city and the rural regions typically will require high beams.
Always dim your headlights when passing an oncoming car or coming from behind to avoid blinding the other driver.
8. Keep your windshield and headlights clean
Maintain a clean windshield and mirrors to prevent glare during night driving. While you may be able to see through during the day, a dirty windshield scatters light and makes it extremely difficult to see through during the night.
Similarly, make sure your headlights are clean and free from damage. Dirty or damaged headlights not only limit your view but can cast a glare onto other drivers as well.
9. Take care of your eyes
Ensure your eyes are healthy and are fit for driving. As you age, your vision becomes more cloudy, inhibiting your ability to see clearly. Have your eyes checked regularly with an optometrist.
Make sure you have proper prescription glasses in place when driving at night. If your eyes are prone to get dry, have eye drops handy to keep them hydrated.
10. Angle your headlights
The angle of your headlights is important for night driving. If it’s angled too low, you won’t be able to see ahead of you. If it’s angled too high, on the other hand, it might blind oncoming drivers.
Check to see if your headlights are at an optimized angle before driving at night. Car mechanics or auto shops can help you determine the angle and make any adjustments if necessary.
While driving at night is more dangerous, it is also unavoidable for the most part. By following these ten driving at night tips, you’ll be able to drive safely and responsibly.
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