There’s a good reason teens with new driver’s licenses aren’t allowed to drive at night in some states.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the fatal crash rate of drivers between 16 to 19, is about four times as high at night per mile driven as it is during the day. It’s dark out (obviously), other cars’ headlights create glare, and you (and other drivers) are more likely to be tired. Then there’s the fact that four times more motorists are driving drunk at night compared to during the day, posing a hazard to everyone around them, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Senior drivers for whom nighttime driving has become difficult might be better off limiting their driving to daylight. Diabetes can also make night vision worse, so talk with your doctor about driving at night. If you’re healthy and looking for ways to make nighttime driving safer and easier, start with these tips, courtesy the National Safety Council, Allstate Insurance, SmartMotorist.com and personal injury attorneys.
Have your eyes checked
Especially if you are an older driver, see your eye doctor at least once every year to make sure you don’t have cataracts or other eye problems that could hamper your vision at night.
Keep your car clean
Wash the windows inside-out and wipe off those dirty headlights, taillights, and signal lights. According to Popular Mechanics, dirty mirrors reflect the lights from the headlights behind you in a wider, more diffused shape.
Turn on your headlights
We’ve all had to honk at some point to warn a hapless soul as he careens down the road on a dark night with no headlights on. Put your headlights on at twilight. Also, make sure your headlights don’t blind other drivers. Make sure your headlights are aimed correctly so they won’t blind other drivers. Regularly carrying a heavy load in the rear can cause your headlamps to tilt up, so talk with your mechanic if that's an issue.
Look away from the bright lights of oncoming traffic shining in your eyes.Use the right edge of the road (which you can see in your peripheral vision) as a touchstone to steer by.
Keep Your Headlights Clean
Dirty headlights can greatly reduce your visibility and will only make an already bad problem, worse. Auto-parts stores carry headlight-cleaning kits that can repair the age-related haze that can form on the shields over your headlights.
Keep your dashboard lights on low
Limiting the contrast between your dashboard lights and the surrounding darkness will make it easier to see.
Watch your meds
Check the label on your medicines and don’t get behind the wheel if there’s a warning not to operate a motor vehicle while taking them. The same goes for daytime driving, of course.
According to smokefree.gov, nicotine restricts the production of a chemical necessary for good night vision. Smoking can also be distracting if you’re behind the wheel.
Increase the following distance between you and the car in front of you
The “three-second rule” for safe following – that is, making sure it would take at least three seconds to reach the car ahead of you in an emergency, should become the “six second rule” at night, according to SmartMotorist.com. If you’re driving at night in heavy fog, rain or snow, make that nine seconds.
Distracted driving is a bad idea during the day and an even worse idea at night. So keep away from your mobile phones or even the handsfree.
Take frequent breaks
Stop to stretch your legs and have a light snack to help prevent drowsiness. Tired? Take a nap. If you find yourself growing weary, stop at a rest stop and take a break. Even a short nap replenishes you better than the temporary relief that you will get from caffeine, loud music or opening the windows. If you still feel exhausted, you may want to spring for a hotel room.
Expect the unexpected
The roads don’t belong just to cars; but also to walkers, runners, cyclists, and wayward deer. It’s your responsibility to watch for others sharing the road. It’s even more important if you have trouble seeing at night to keep your eyes on the road and off your cell phone, radio, and other distractions. Your life and that of your loved ones is the most important. So drive safe, because someone is waiting for you at your destination!