5 Tips For Driving at Night
The longest day of winter was on December 21st of 2019, which means that the days are getting progressively longer. Still, drivers must wait a bit longer before their commute to and from work is no longer done in the dark.
Dark isn’t just gloomy and mood-affecting. It can also have severe impacts on the safety of our driving habits. Accidents increase at night, and Saturday night accidents prove to be more fatal than any other time of day or week. In the winter, when roads can become icy suddenly, it is even more dangerous to drive when the sun is down. Yet, we must carry on doing it.
Since driving at night is unavoidable for most of us, what are the ways we can protect ourselves during this vulnerable time of day?
Here are some tips from Zeck Ford for nighttime driving in the Kansas City region.
1) Drive with someone else whenever possible.
Fatigue, distraction, and animal collisions. All are common reasons cited by people who get into nighttime accidents.
If you can, always drive with one passenger awake and alert. Ideally, this passenger will be in the front seat, talking with you and keeping their eyes on the road. By talking with you while you drive, they are helping you stay awake and alert. An awake passenger can also act as a designated texter, helping you avoid the temptation of texting while driving. Finally, it can be hard to see animals on the side of the road as the driver. Passengers can help prevent animal collisions by paying particular attention to the side of the road and warning drivers of potential animal danger.
If you cannot drive with someone, use your head. Pull over to the side of the road if you feel drowsy, and drive more slowly on roads that are prone to deer crossings. Under no circumstances should you touch your phone while driving – put it on distraction-free mode and get to your destination safely.
2) Always be sure your lights are working correctly.
Before you drive anywhere, check all of your lights. Turn the car on and check the headlights, high beams, and blinkers before you go anywhere. Then, put on the brakes and make sure at least one brake light is working. If any of them fail to do their job, see if you can get a ride rather than risking driving with them. If not, use caution and schedule repair for your lights as soon as possible.
3) Be sure your windshield is clean before going anywhere.
You might not notice the gunk on your windshield during the day. This is because you have more efficient day vision, and a lot of this gunk is relatively transparent when there is lots of available light. However, at night what was an annoyance on the windshield can become deathly distracting. Instead of transparency, the light from oncoming vehicles makes things like salt spray and ice a very noticeable distraction.
During the winter, you should check your windshield fluid at least once a week – preferably a few times, so that you can see well during the nighttime. Always keep a spare jug of windshield fluid in your car, and fill up your windshield fluid as soon as you notice it is empty. Additionally, it would be best if you cleaned your windshield every time you stop at a gas station to avoid thick buildups of snow and ice. Don’t forget about your interior, either. Keep a bottle of Windex and a roll of paper towels available within reach in case you notice a smear on the inside of the window.
4) Slow down and avoid rush hour.
Even if you are an excellent driver, you can’t always count on everyone around you being as reliable. That’s why we recommend avoiding rush hour traffic while it is dark out if you can. If you have a little bit of extra work to get done, can grocery shop nearby your work, or have an at-work gym you can utilize, spend an hour doing something productive. You’ll find you spend less time in the dark, and less time dealing with your fellow drivers’ less-than-great driving.
Additionally, don’t speed up to get home. Speed and darkness boost the likelihood of an accident. Ultimately, an accident increases the time you spend away from home, as well as creating a costly bill. It’s always best to play it safe when it is dark out.
5) Avoid any light sources in your car – dim your dashboard if you can.
If you remember back to driver’s ed, your driving instructor probably told you to pay attention to the line on the side of the road rather than looking straight ahead if a car is driving toward you. This is because, as well as worsening our already poor vision, people instinctively drive toward lights. Outside light sources are horrible for our vision. In the moments that a car approaches us, our eyes hurt to adjust to the much brighter light – causing our pupils to close. In the moments after light passes, our vision becomes much worse as our pupils adjust to the darkness again. Paying attention to the line on the side of the road helps us stay on course as well as preventing drastic eye adjustments.
Outside lights are not the only potentially dangerous light night drivers have to worry about. Interior lights, including bright dash lights, can decrease our night vision and cause us to miss things that might be in our path (like animals, potholes, and other potential collisions). Most modern cars have the technology to adjust to the dark automatically. However, other light sources – like DVD players, phones, and GPS devices, should be dimmed as often as possible.
Driving at night is dangerous but unavoidable. If you take appropriate measures to prepare yourself against the worst night driving issues, you won’t have to worry as much about your safety.
Looking for a car with high safety ratings and great night driving capabilities? Visit the Zeck Ford Dealership in Leavenworth, Kansas. Schedule a meeting with one of our representatives today, or apply for financing here.