Nighttime driving can be challenging and sometimes dangerous. It is said that fatal accidents are three times more likely to occur at night than during the day. This is because we do not see very well in the dark – the ability to distinguish colours diminishes, as well as depth perception and peripheral vision which makes it more difficult to judge situations. At night you have reduced visibility and see less of the road ahead of you, and you do not have much time to stop your vehicle. Here are a few things you can do to improve your driving once the sun has set:
⦁ Stay alert and Combat fatigue
t is easy to get tired when driving at night so it is really important to do whatever it takes to stay alert and focused on the road. A few suggestions are rolling down the window and getting some fresh air, turning up the volume on the radio, talking to yourself or singing, drinking caffeine or pulling over to the side of the road to get some rest or going for a walk. Taking breaks every 2 hours or so is highly recommended.
If you need to pull over to the side of the road, turn on your hazard lights and put out your reflective triangle so that other drivers can easily see you.
⦁ Don’t drink and drive
Do not put yourself and others at risk by driving after you have had an alcoholic drink. Not only is it illegal and you could face a DUI (driving under the influence) charge and some pretty hefty fines, but it could prove to be fatal. Also be on the lookout for other drunken drivers on the road at night and make sure you steer clear of them.
⦁ Don’t get distracted
Avoid using your cell phone whilst driving as the brightness of the screen can affect your vision when you look back to the road, and never text and drive! Be extra cautious when adjusting the radio or eating and drinking in the car.
⦁ Dim your instrument panel and interior lights
Dimming your dash lights will enhance your night vision making it easier to see the road ahead and will remove the distractions of the bright lights. It will remove reflections on the windscreen and allow your eyes to adjust to night vision more easily,
⦁ Check and adjust your headlamps if necessary
Check the angle of your headlamps – they should both be pointing in the same direction and should illuminate the road quite a bit ahead of you. If they are aimed too high they will blind oncoming drivers and if they tilt down too much you will lose some of the illumination so adjust as necessary.
⦁ Check all lights regularly
Regularly check that all lights are working correctly – this includes your headlamps, tail lamps, brake lights and indicators. Ensure they are brightly lit at all times. Clean the grime off the head and tail lamps often and replace dim bulbs. You can order any online car parts including bulbs these days and they will usually deliver straight to you.
⦁ Don’t look into the light of oncoming traffic
When the lights of oncoming traffic are blinding you, rather than looking straight ahead, try and cast your gaze downwards and to the right, whilst focusing on the white line. Turn your gaze away rather than staring at oncoming lights and lift gaze back up when the vehicle has passed.
If the car behind you has their high beams on, adjust your rearview mirror to get the reflection away from your eyes, normally by flicking it down.
⦁ Increase your distance and reduce speed
Avoid tailgating and rather increase the distance between you and the car in front of you and slow down.
⦁ Clean your windscreen (inside and outside)
A dirty windscreen may seem harmless but it actually scatters light and can cause a blinding glare from other headlights at night. A trick is to polish the windscreen glass with newspaper to remove residue build up.
⦁ Clean and Adjust the Exterior Mirrors
Dirty mirrors can also reflect and distort light and create a glare so clean them as well when you are cleaning your windscreen.
⦁ Look out for Pedestrians
Walkers and joggers can be difficult to see at night, especially on poorly-lit roads. Watch out for pedestrians at intersections and look both ways before driving off.
⦁ Check your vision
Check your eyes and vision regularly to prevent eye strain and stress which will lead to fatigue. You may also need prescription glasses for night driving.
All of the above tips will assist you whilst driving at night and could even prevent a possible accident from happening. Here is to safer driving!