Unless you’re an owl, bat, cat, or another animal with an exceptional ability to find your way around at night, any task becomes a little more difficult in the dark, including driving. Driving at night is actually more dangerous than people think. Drivers’ reactions depend 90 percent on vision, and vision is not as keen at night.
Traffic deaths are three times greater at night than during the day, according to the NSC. During these hours, the road (and everything on or around it) is harder to see, making it more dangerous. In fact, the National Safety Council (NSC) reports that while only 25% of our driving time is at night, that small portion accounts for 50% of all fatal accidents.
However, sometimes we need to drive at night! Fortunately, there’s no need for fear; there are plenty of ways to stay safe and reduce your risk of being in a crash. Check out our tips for driving at night to stay alert in the evening and lower your chances of accidents after dark.
How to Prepare & Drive in the Dark
Driving after dark is safer if you plan ahead and follow these recommendations.
- Clean your windows and windshields inside and out for the best visibility at night.
- Before you drive, check that your headlights and taillights are working and aimed properly for visibility.
- Driving at dusk is the hardest time of the day to drive because your eyes are constantly adjusting to the growing darkness. When in doubt, turn your lights on so other drivers can see you.
- In the event of car trouble, pull off on the side of the road as far as possible and turn on your hazards. If you have reflective triangles, even better,
- Turn your high beams on in low traffic areas for better visibility, but make sure to keep your lights on low beam for oncoming traffic and high traffic areas.
- Slow down and follow other drivers with more than two-car distances between you to allow for ample braking time.
- Make frequent stops for breaks and stop driving to rest if you’re too tired to drive.
- Practice cautious driving and safety at night whether on a trip or driving in your neighborhood. Practice extra caution with young, inexperienced drivers and older drivers who have a harder time seeing in the dark with age.
Night Driving Infographic
Dim your dashboard lights.
If the lights on your dashboard are bright, you might unknowingly be compromising your vision on the road. Most vehicles have a dimmer switch on the driver’s side of the dash. Locate it, and adjust the brightness to a level that you’re comfortable with.
Adjust your headlights and keep them clean.
Your headlights’ aim can get “off” and need readjustment from time to time. If you think your headlights are shining unevenly or too low, you’re probably right. Grab your owner’s manual and see if you can readjust them. Or, visit your nearest mechanic and have them take a look. While you’re working on your headlights, try this tip to clean grimy or foggy covers. And if your headlight bulbs are ineffective, save money and learn how to replace them on your own.
Avoid looking into oncoming traffic.
Do you know that temporary blindness you get when a bright camera flash goes off? You can get a version of that same fuzzy vision if you look directly into oncoming headlights. When there’s a car approaching in the opposite lane, try not to look directly into their lights. Think of it like gazing up at a bright summer sky, but NOT looking directly into the sun!
Get anti-glare lenses in your glasses.
In fact, try not to wear any type of glasses at all unless you require them for vision correction. If you need your glasses to drive, look into getting anti-glare or anti-reflective lenses. Talk to your eye doctor about the best type of lenses for your driving needs.
Clean your windshield.
The dust and smudges on your windshield might not cause any issues during the day, but it’s a different story at night. These streaks could cause glare from oncoming headlights, making night driving extremely difficult. Also, make sure your windshield wipers aren’t leaving any streaks by giving them a good cleaning.
Regardless of how safe you drive, it’s simply tougher to see at night, and other drivers may not be as cautious as you. Slow down and give yourself more time to react to animals, signs, potholes, and anything else you might miss.
By using these night driving tips, you can help calm your driving worries. And for even more peace of mind, consider a 24/7 Roadside Assistance Plan. With tows and jumps available at any hour of the day or night, you can hit the road after dark knowing someone has your back. Stop by one of our stores, visit us online, or call 1-877-GO-DIRECT to learn more today!
*Roadside Assistance is not insurance and is administered through NationSafeDriver, Boca Raton, FL, which is not affiliated with the Direct General Group. Terms and conditions apply.