How to Stay Safe When Driving a Car at Night
Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on Oct 04, 2018 in Car Accidents
Before you know it, daylight savings time will end; this year it officially ends on Sunday, Nov. 4. This means many drivers will spend more time on the road at night, when there is a much greater risk of a fatal crash.
While there is no foolproof way to avoid accidents at night, there are things you can do to help lower your risk, including things you can do before you even get behind the wheel. Our Silver Spring car accident lawyers may be able to help you pursue compensation if you were injured in a nighttime car crash. Schedule a free legal consultation today to learn more.
Dangers of Nighttime Driving
The chance of a fatal car accident is three times higher at night compared to the daytime, according to the National Safety Council. Driving at night is dangerous for a variety of reasons – some of the main reasons are explained below:
This is the most obvious danger of hitting the road at night. It is harder to see everything around you, which increases the odds of not seeing something and getting into an accident. Even if you turn on your high-beam headlights, you can only see about 500 feet in front of you at night. This gives you less time to react to things, particularly if you are traveling at high speed.
There are some simple things you can do to ensure you have the best visibility possible, including:
- Dimming your dashboard lights
- Cleaning your headlights
- Reducing your speed to give yourself more time to react
- Regularly cleaning your windshield to eliminate streaks that can cause glare and prevent you from seeing everything in front of you
- Having your headlights inspected to ensure they are aimed correctly
It is better to be safe than sorry and turn on your lights right when it starts to get dark outside, even if you notice a lot of other drivers do not have their headlights on.
Poor Night Vision
Medical reports suggest nighttime driving is more difficult for persons over the age of 50 because they have much more difficulty seeing at night. When people turn 60, nighttime driving becomes even more difficult, particularly for those with cataracts and degenerative eye diseases. This is why older drivers have to try harder to see than younger drivers.
The American Optometric Association has several recommendations for older drivers to reduce their risk of a nighttime accident:
- Slow down
- Only drive during the daytime if possible
- Have a vision exam each year and update your eyeglasses prescription
- Talk to your doctor about any side effects from prescription drugs
- Avoid any distractions, like talking on the phone or to passengers
Individuals working multiple shifts at their job often drive with some level of fatigue. People on long road trips are also more likely to be fatigued behind the wheel. Tired drivers are almost as dangerous as drunk drivers since depth perception, awareness and ability to brake quickly are significantly reduced.
Avoid driving when tired by carpooling with people who are not fatigued, or at least stop every two hours and allow a passenger who is not as tired as you to drive. You can also pull over someplace safe, like a truck stop or a 24-hour store, and take a short nap if need be.
If possible, avoid traveling during times when you know you are tired or would normally be asleep. You should also try to get the recommended amount of sleep each night – the National Sleep Foundation recommends getting at least seven hours of sleep each night.
Rush Hour Traffic
In the summer, the sun is still out during rush hour. However, once daylight savings time ends, it gets dark around 5 p.m., making already dangerous travel even more dangerous. Always reduce speed during these hours, especially when elements like snow, rain, sleet, or ice are present. Memorize your route, avoid multitasking while driving and never change lanes abruptly.
Although it is easy to go on autopilot and not pay as much attention as you should, try to avoid doing that. You need to stay alert because there is a lot of traffic, which means more opportunities for an accident.
One of the biggest dangers of driving at night is other drivers who are drunk. Many of them chose not to take a taxi or rideshare home because they believed they were not drunk.
Preparing for intoxicated drivers may seem impossible because there is no way to actually verify that someone is drunk. However, these telltale signs and tips may help you avoid a crash:
- If you encounter a driver swerving in front of you, note his or her license plate number, call 9-1-1 and tell the dispatcher your location. Do not attempt to make maneuvers to slow the driver down.
- Look for and avoid drivers who have not turned on their headlights.
- If someone is taking up two lanes on the interstate, honk your horn and steer clear of this person's vehicle.
- Watch for erratic braking or unnecessarily wide turns and avoid drivers making these kinds of maneuvers.
If you are intoxicated, request a ride from someone else. Do not drink and drive because you are putting yourself and everyone else on the road at risk.
Contact a Silver Spring Car Accident Lawyer
If you were injured in a nighttime car accident caused by negligence, contact a lawyer to determine your legal options. The attorneys at our firm offer a free, no obligation legal consultation and do not charge for our services unless you receive compensation.