By Guest Author: Rachel Oliver
Driving at night can not only be bothersome, but also dangerous. It can be challenging as managing the wheel after dark is different from doing so in the day. Vision is reduced and it becomes difficult to spot vulnerable pedestrians, motorcyclists, cyclists and other motorists on the road. Apart from that, there is also the fear of the driver falling asleep behind the wheel and endangering several lives at once, including his own.
Most drivers think that it is extremely safe to drive at night, thanks to the reduced traffic. Owing to this misconception, these drivers tend to be unaware of the challenges of driving at night, not realizing that they’re probably sharing the road with those less responsible.
Here’s why driving at night is more dangerous than you think –
- Decrease in visibility, color recognition and depth perception are a few effects brought about by darkness. Apart from that, the peripheral vision is also compromised. Because of this, pedestrians, cyclists, bikers, and other vehicles often go undetected by motorists and vice versa.
- Several inexperienced and young drivers drive post sundown. They typically lack the skills and the level of concentration which come only with experience.
- We all know that the elderly tend to have a weak vision and need adequate light to be able to see properly. Driving in the dark can lead to a further decrease in the ability to judge speed and distance.
- Bars and pubs tend to be thronged with people at night, several of who return home late in their car or on foot and in an inebriated state.
- Going back home after a hard day of work and sharing the road with other fatigued drivers who may have travelled long distances can be risky.
- In certain areas, there is a risk of wildlife venturing on the roads in case of broken or removed fences.
- Criminals choose to step out in the open under the umbrella of darkness. They often victimize unsuspecting people by placing objects amidst the road to cause crashes and rob the passengers.
The best way to avoid the perils of night-time driving is by choosing not to drive once it becomes dark, and using more reliable modes of transport when partaking in long journeys. However, we do realize that it may not always be possible to put off late-night travels for daytime or better weather.
Mentioned ahead are a few tips on how to drive safely post sundown.
- Prepare in Advance
Being prepared to deal with the situation can go a long way in ascertaining your safety. When gearing up for night driving, it is important that you clean your headlights, taillights, indicator lights, and all the mirrors. Apart from that, keep your windows clean on the inside and the outside. Make it a practice to do so once every week.
- Of Horns and Headlights
Make sure the horn and the headlights of your car are in proper working condition. Honk whenever necessary to keep out of trouble. Avoid honking in silent-zones, though.
Care needs to be taken to see to it that your headlights are aimed properly. Misaligned headlights can blind other drivers and hamper your ability to see the road. It is best to keep your headlights on at all times when driving at night. This will help you see the road, as well as enable others to spot you from a distance, thereby avoiding collisions and mishaps.
When traveling through fog or driving behind another vehicle, keep your headlights on low. This will prevent your headlights from blinding the driver ahead of you. To eliminate glare from oncoming headlights, watch the right edge of the road and use it as a steering guide.
- No Drinking and/or Smoking
Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or certain medications which warn against operation vehicles after consumption is to be strictly avoided. The rule of thumb is simple – don’t drink and drive. Even one drink can prove to be hazardous as it may make you drowsy.
Having said that, be alert when driving at night on weekends as that is when most people visit pubs and go to parties and consume alcohol.
Further, avoid smoking when you drive. The nicotine and carbon monoxide from the smoke can not only make you cough, it can also hamper night vision, thereby increasing the likelihood of being involved in a mishap.
- Mind Your Speed
When driving at night, it is important to keep your speed low and maintain a considerable following distance to avoid an accident.
In some areas, wildlife wanders on to the streets at night. Certain animals such as deer travel in herds, which can prove to be hazardous. If you happen to come across one animal, reduce the speed of your vehicle immediately as there’s a high chance that more are around.
- Keep Your Distance
It is difficult to estimate distances at night. Hence, you need to maintain a considerable distance from the vehicle ahead of you. As already mentioned, switch to low beams to avoid blinding the driver, and look towards the right edge of the road to avoid glare. This cannot be emphasized enough.
Look out for oncoming traffic and pay attention to headlight flashes when approaching hills or steep curves.
- Pull Over When Necessary
Do not hesitate in pulling over to the side of the road and making frequent stops to eat light snacks and stretch your limbs. This will only make you more alert when on a long road trip.
Additionally, pull off as far away as possible from the road if you experience car trouble. Turn on your vehicle’s indicators, emergency lights and the inner dome light. Stay in the car until help arrives.
- Have Your Eyes Examined
Most drivers experience eye fatigue due to long hours of driving, but choose to ignore it. Doing so, however, isn’t prudent. It is important to stop and rest or take a nap every few hours in between long drives.
It is best to visit your optometrist and have your eyes examined once a year. If you have vision problems only at night, a pair of simple glasses with anti-reflective lenses can be helpful.
Driving at night can be a necessary evil at times. It should be avoided as far as possible, but when it just cannot be evaded, keep the above tips in mind when hitting into the road. They should prepare you and your vehicle for the journey ahead, as well as enable you to steer clear of obvious troubles.
Author Bio: Rachel Oliver specializes in laws dealing with traffic defense and related niches. Updated with the latest happenings in the legal world, she shares her experiences and anecdotes through her write-ups on various websites. Interact with her through her Google+