Are you ever driving at night and wondering what lurks beyond the reach of your headlights? Do you question how well you can actually see in the dark? What you might not realize is the nighttime driving hazards that might be out there which can change your entire path if you don’t see them in time. Below we’ll dive into some statistics and essential safety tips for navigating the treacherous realm of nighttime driving so you can protect yourself on the road after dark.
What Are The Hazards Of Driving At Nighttime?
While nighttime driving is often a necessary occurrence, it comes with a unique set of hazards that require attention and caution. It’s important to understand the dangers that can await outside of your vehicle so you can ensure your safety and the safety of others during your journeys at night.
The most obvious hazard of driving at night is the reduced visibility. During the day we are able to see road signs, roadblocks, and hazards without the help of our headlights, but at nighttime, we have to rely on the assistance of our vehicles to shed light on our surroundings as we drive. When you strain your eyes to see in the dark, eye fatigue, occurs in the morning as well but primarily at night. While this isn’t a serious condition, it can cause you to be unable to see hazards on the road, which can lead to an accident. Another type of hazard that reduces your visibility is headlights. While headlights are a necessary safety precaution you should always take while driving, oncoming vehicle headlights can cause glares, making it difficult for you to see where you’re going.
Additionally, driving at night time poses the risk of drowsiness while you’re on the road. Our bodies set what’s called a biological clock based on the pattern of daylight where we live. Since we’re naturally more tired at night, nighttime driving has been linked to
high levels of subjective and behavioral sleepiness.
Factors That Aggravate Nighttime Driving Risks
There are several factors that can aggravate nighttime driving risks, making the roads much more dangerous for you to be on at night. The factors include:
- Adverse weather conditions – rain, fog, and for other states snow, can still occur at night, making visibility extremely challenging. If you have to drive at night and the weather conditions aren’t great, make sure that your windshield wipers are working and that you’re able to defog your windows before you leave. Once you’re on the road, reduce your normal speed and increase your typical following distance behind other vehicles in case they break abruptly, or in case of any road hazards that could cause you to hydroplane or veer off the road. If the weather gets too much, pull over if necessary. After all, we live in Florida so you’ve likely observed how quickly rain can start and stop.
- Impaired driving – there are all kinds of impaired driving including driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving while taking over-the-counter medications, and even texting while driving. Any of these additional factors added to the dangers of generally driving at night can have catastrophic effects. That’s why you should never get behind the wheel after you’ve had alcohol or any type of drug or medication that can impair your driving abilities and judgment.
Below are a few chilling statistics related to driving at night:
- 50% of traffic deaths happen at night.
- 42,000 people were killed in nighttime crashes in 2020.
- 19% of teenage motor vehicle crash deaths in 2020 occurred between 9:00 p.m. and midnight.
- 2018 NHTSA shows that in the U.S. 29% of all traffic fatalities involved at least one driver that was under the influence and 75% of those crashes occurred at nighttime and nearly half occurred on weekend nights.
- 5.25 million car accidents occurred in 2020, 29% of which occurred at nighttime.
Safety Tips for Nighttime Driving
In order to stay safe during your nighttime travels, consider the following safety tips:
- Ensure your vehicle is properly prepared for nighttime travel.
Do a thorough once-over of your vehicle before any nighttime trips to ensure that your headlights, taillights, and windshield wipers are working properly and that no warning lights are on.
- Make sure you’re alert before getting behind the wheel.
If your journey is going to be a long one, plan to take breaks to combat any fatigue you might be feeling. You should also familiarize yourself with signs of drowsiness like yawning or nodding off. If you experience these symptoms, it’s crucial that you get to a safe location to stop and rest.
- Adjust your mirrors to minimize glare
Turn the night setting for your rearview mirror on so that you can minimize the glare of the vehicle’s headlights behind you.
- Avoid staring into oncoming traffic’s headlights
This might sound silly, but when driving against someone’s headlights is similar to the saying “it’s like a trainwreck, you can’t look away.” It hurts your eyes, but it can be hard to avoid. The best way to maintain visibility is to direct your vision to the white line on the right side of the road.
By being aware of the risks and hazards associated with nighttime driving, you can take proper precautions to ensure that you’re taking measures to make your nighttime endeavors as safe as possible.
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