At night, many drivers experience decreased depth perception, and difficult distinguishing color, and a diminished peripheral vision. These challenges can make some people feel a little anxious when they get behind the wheel.
Between the darkness, the glaring high beams in their eyes, and the knowledge that a lot of collisions happen at night, it’s no wonder that people are concerned about night driving. However, these simple tips can help you make your next journey a safer one.
Turn your lights on earlier rather than later.
What are the rules for when, exactly, you’re supposed to turn your headlights on? Rather than worrying about strict technicalities, just turn them on when you know the daylight is disappearing. Don’t get caught at dusk, when it’s not quite dark and not quite light, without adequate illumination. Just turn your lights on when you know that night is coming. It will help other people see you while aiding your own vision as you transition from light to dark.
Keep your eyes moving.
Since we can’t see as far at night, or judge colors and distances as well, our eyes can dry out because we’re concentrating so hard and blinking less. This kind of eye strain and fatigue can contribute to many night-driving problems.
You can counter this by moving your eyes and trying to widen your field of vision. Don’t just focus on one single area ahead of the vehicle. Staring at the asphalt ahead of you, and the yellow or white lines constantly passing under your vision, will only contribute to eye fatigue. Actively look around and be aware of all your surroundings.
Keep your windows clean – inside and out.
Sometimes you can see through the windshield just fine during the day, but when night comes and headlights are pointed at you, suddenly a bunch of streaks appear that disrupt your vision.
Keep your windows immaculately clean on both the inside and out. Try not to touch your windshield, but if you do, make sure to wipe it away quickly. The oils left from your skin can leave a smear on the glass, and then you’ll get a glare in just the wrong place.
A simple solution is to keep a cotton or microfiber cloth in your car at all times for the interior and make sure that you keep the exteriors cleaned whenever you can. Always make sure the windshield wiper fluid is full and that your wipers are in good shape and working correctly.
Minimize distractions inside your car.
There are a lot of things insider your car that can ruin your night vision and create distractions. The dashboard light can cause a glare, so you out to dim it a little bit. If you use a GPS or other digital screens, either dim them or put them in their night mode. And, of course, your cell phone can be a serious distraction. From the unexpected alerts to the sudden bright lights of the screen, these devices can pull your eyes from the road when you need to be completely focused.
It’s okay to slow down.
Go ahead and say it: “I don’t always have to drive really fast.” This is especially true in areas where road work is happening, or when there is a lot of traffic, or really late at night.
These late night/early morning hours are when drivers may be drowsy or otherwise impaired and making poor decisions. If you’ve got your speed under control, and you’re aware of your surroundings, you’ll can make better decisions and avoid potential problems.
It’s okay to pull over.
If you start to feel sleepy or even a little fatigued, it’s okay to find a safe place to pull over and get some actual rest. Don’t force yourself to keep driving. Don’t try and convince yourself that you can make it all the way to your destination. You may believe that if you turn the music up loud enough or have the windows down you’ll be fine.
It’s much better to believe (because it’s true) that drowsy driving leads to serious problems. Statistics suggest that sleep-deprived drivers are the cause of 6,400 deaths, and 50k serious injuries annually on the U.S. roads.
Don’t be a statistic.
Realize that night driving poses some different challenges and that proactively maintaining your vehicle and staying aware of your surroundings can help you drive safely from point a to point b.