Night driving is not optimal for most people of any age. Reduced depth perception, combined with the glare of headlights, can make for a hazardous combination and slow reaction time. Driving at night also carries the risk of being tired and less focused – and sharing the road with other fatigued or even impaired drivers.
Winter is the season where we spend more of our waking hours in darkness – and this includes driving at night. Night driving carries additional car accident risks that can cause personal injury or fatalities for drivers and passengers. Staying safe when getting behind the wheel in dark conditions can be done with common sense and preparation.
Reducing the Risks
Drivers can take steps to be prepared for night driving and reduce the chance of an accident.
Car Maintenance: Headlights are a critical factor in night driving and should be checked regularly for cloudy covers and burnt out bulbs. With an automatic headlamp setting, the car sensor will turn headlights on when conditions are dim. However, this is not foolproof, and making a practice of manually turning on headlights at dusk helps the driver see and to be seen by other vehicles.
Other common-sense safe driving practices are to keep the windshield clean and wipers maintained. Keep the windshield clear of snow and dirt and check windshield wiper fluid levels.
Visibility and Distractions: Drivers of all ages should be sure their vision is checked regularly. Aging reduces night vision, and the glare of headlights can worsen for drivers who use corrective lenses. One solution is to use anti-glare glasses at night, which some drivers find helpful. Drivers who recognize their night vision is poor may choose to avoid night driving altogether.
Distractions are another factor when night visibility is also reduced. Keep conversations to a minimum, turn music off, and switch phones to silent to keep concentration on the road where it needs to be.
Other potential risks include sharing the road with drivers who are texting or otherwise not paying attention. Driving at night also means sharing the road with a higher percentage of impaired drivers.
Fatigue: The risks of fatigue when driving at night cannot be overstated. A National Sleep Foundation survey indicated that 37 percent of drivers reported having fallen asleep at the wheel. The survey also substantiates the assumption that more car accidents happen in nighttime.
Driving while drowsy endangers both the driver and others on the road. With major fatigue, it carries the same risks as drunk driving, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).
If you drive regularly at night, taking the time to prepare can minimize the risks. However, serious car accidents can still happen, even with the best preparation, and through no fault of the driver.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you need to know your rights and to have the best representation possible.