It doesn’t seem fair: to get a little more light in the morning, you are now leaving work in the pitch dark as early as 5:00 p.m. For commuters, this means more hours spent behind the wheel in the dark—and after a long day at work, the risks of suffering a night driving car accident increase dramatically.
Lights, Experience and a Little Planning Can Keep You Safe While Driving At Night
While driving at night can be a nuisance, there are many small changes drivers can make to help them be better prepared on the roads. Here are just a few precautions to take in the months before we can “spring forward”:
- Slow and steady. The first precaution drivers should take is to increase following distances and reduce their speeds while driving in the dark. Not only is it more difficult to judge distances between other vehicles, drivers may have trouble noticing obstacles in the road until it is too late to stop.
- Bright lights. While using your high beams can make it much easier for you to see the road, you could be blinding oncoming drivers, making an accident even more likely. If you are using your high beams, always switch back to your low beams when you see a car approaching. If you are traveling behind another driver, use your low beams and maintain a safe cushion of space in front of your vehicle. If an oncoming vehicle does not switch off his high beams, focus your eyes on the white line at the side of the road until he passes to keep your vision clear.
- Low beams. Your standard headlights can help you avoid many obstacles, but only if they are aimed correctly. If they are pointed too high, your headlights are likely to blind other drivers while missing the road entirely--and if they are pointed too low, they may only show a tiny portion of the road ahead. If your low beams do not shine at least 250 feet ahead of your car, you should have them adjusted by a mechanic.
- Maintenance. Daylight savings happens twice a year, so why not use these days as a benchmark to schedule your vehicle’s six-month maintenance appointment? Not only will your car run more smoothly for the coming season, you can also replace the bulbs in your head lamps and brake lights to increase your visibility.
- Tidy up. The easiest change a driver can make to increase visibility at night is to make sure the interior and exterior of the vehicle is clean. Boxes, bottles, and other debris on the inside of the car can compromise your visibility, while dirt on windshields and mirrors can distort or even block your view of traffic.
- Practice. Teenage drivers are more likely to suffer a fatal car accident at night than during the day, so take care to educate your teen on the dangers of night driving. It is a good idea to ride with younger drivers as they practice night driving so that you can offer tips and advice on what to do in an emergency.
Do you know someone who is afraid of driving at night? Send him or her a link to this article on Facebook to share our tips with your friends. A little preparation can save lives!