According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities on the road occur at a rate three times greater at night than during the day. Even more telling is that even though one quarter of all driving is done at night, more than half of all driving deaths occur then. While you might already be an overall safe driver, taking extra precautions at night can help your odds of ending up as one of these grim statistics. Check out our safety tips below to help keep the evening roads safe for you as well as other drivers.
1. Maintain your headlights: Keep your headlights clean for better visibility by wiping down your lens covers on a regular basis. Even better, make sure your headlights are properly aimed so that you can see the road and other drivers won’t be blinded. If you notice a light out, whether it’s a headlight or taillight, get it replaced immediately.
2. Use your lights smartly: Be sure to turn on your headlights even at dusk. While it might not help you see any better, it will make it easier for other drivers to see you. When nightfall fully settles in, do not hesitate to use your high beams for best visibility when other drivers are not around, but be mindful about turning them off appropriately. Your exterior lights aren’t the only ones to help with visibility. Dim your instrument panel and dashboard lights to give your eyes the best visibility, and use your reading/map lights sparingly.
3. Allow room for error: For safest nighttime driving, it’s best to make adjustments to account for decreased visibility. Drive slower and leave more room between you and the car in front of you than you would during the daytime. Typical low beams illuminate 160 to 250 feet in front of your car, but it takes more than 200 feet to completely stop a vehicle traveling 60 miles per hour.
4. Clean windshields and mirrors: Give your windshield a cleaning every time you fill up at the gas station, and don’t forget about your rearview mirrors too. Dirty mirrors can produce glare from cars behind you and make it harder to see what’s behind you.
5. Don’t stare at oncoming lights: Locking a gaze with the headlights of an oncoming vehicle is not only distracting but it can affect your vision, even after the vehicle has passed you. If it’s safe to do so, avert your gaze toward the white line on the shoulder of the road until the car has passed you.
6. Watch for fatigued and drunk drivers: Even if you are being safe, you can’t count on other drivers to do the same. If you’re traveling late at night, look out for drivers who might be impaired and exercise extra caution.
7. Stay alert: Just as you should watch out for other impaired drivers, don’t forget to watch out for yourself! If you feel fatigued, get off the road to avoid endangering yourself and others. Fresh air, stretching your legs, and coffee are good remedies, but don’t get back behind the wheel if you are still sleepy.