Even experienced drivers may find night-driving a nerve-racking experience. With visibility reduced and fatigue setting in, you need to be extra cautious to avert accidents. There are certain things that you could do to reduce the risk of collisions, and they are listed below. Follow these tips to your best abilities and have a safe drive during the night.
- Keep a Tab on Your Speed
Driving above the speed limit is never a good idea, particularly at night. Always make it a point to follow posted speed limits so that you have time to react if something unexpected pops up on the road. It is a good rule of thumb to have a driving distance of at least three seconds between your vehicle and the car in front of you.
Large animals crossing the road pose significant risks. You can find many amazing footages from dash cams showing animals crossing the road at night. Take caution when you face large animals like deer and moose. Small animals such as raccoons and opossums also cross the road. Swerving can lead to the car losing control. The best thing to do is slow down and pull your car to a stop. Wait for the animal to cross the road and continue driving.
Finally, you should adapt your speed according to road-appropriate conditions. If you are on a wet road, reduce your speed by at least one-third. For snowy conditions, reduce it by half. Your headlights will be illuminating 160 feet in front of you. However, even at 40 mph, you need approximately 190 feet to stop. Adjust your speed, taking into account your visibility.
2. Look After the Headlight and Windshield
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that dirty or damaged windshields scatter light and increase the effects of glare. These can be highly risky. Windshields tend to get dirty, so clean them from time to time. However, avoid using your hands directly on the windshield. The grime from your fingertips can cause further smearing.
Keep some old newspapers in your car. These can be very handy in wiping windshields and mirrors. Cracked windshields can also have the same effect of causing glares. Get it repaired as soon as possible. Always give your headlight a clean wipe before starting the night trip. If you have issues with the lights, get them fixed quickly.
Also, you should check if the alignment of the headlights is right. If they are tilted too low, you lose some of the illuminations on the road. If the tilt is on the high side, your car will cause glare for cars coming towards you. This is not a DIY project, and you should ask your mechanic to look after the lights. While you take your car to the service station, make sure to check if the low and high beams are working properly.
Night driving is particularly more difficult when you are on a two-lane highway. You will have to deal constantly with oncoming car headlights. These roads also typically have more sharp curves than a freeway.
3. Be a Defensive Driver
Put your defensive driving skills to use at night. It starts with having a clean windshield, as mentioned above. Turn your lights on at least half an hour before sunset. If it is a dark day, switch them on earlier. Be a courteous driver by switching from high beams to low beams when you have a car in front of you. If the driver approaching you does not practice this, do not look directly into the high beams. It can blind your temporarily, increasing the risk of driving at night. In that case, look at the side of the road to avoid the glare. Consider having a fluorescent triangle in your vehicle so that the oncoming traffic is aware of your position. In case you have issues with your vehicle, pull off the road and call for help.
4. Use High Beams Correctly
High beams are safety devices installed in all cars, but not all drivers use them. Many drivers have the idea that they can see well without using their high beams. However, the fact remains that correctly alternating between your high beams and low beams can enhance your road safety. A low beam light illuminates up to 160 feet in front of you, sometimes even more. When you want to have a greater field of vision, use the high beams. However, avoid using them when you are on a busy road. Also, in adverse weather conditions, it is better to use low beams.
Put the high beams to use when you are driving down a rural road or when other vehicles are not present. These can illuminate the road up to 350 to 400 feet, usually the area covered by a city block. Car models have different technology for switching on the high beams. Some cars have a lever on the side of the steering wheel. Others may have a small button for activating them on the left side of the driver’s floor. Some newer models have an adaptive lighting technology that automatically adjusts your high beams and low beams depending on road conditions.
5. Avoid Night-time Fatigue
Night-time fatigue sets in when you did not rest enough during the day. It affects your driving skills. Sleep deprivation in night-time driving is a major issue. It can lead to micro-sleeps, causing you to lose control over the wheels. Do the best you can to avoid fatigue. If it is very difficult, park your vehicle to the side and have a power nap for fifteen minutes. For long drives, you can stop for the night at motels and hotels and have a rest. If you continue to drive, open your windows from time to time to have some fresh air. You can also turn on the radio at low volume to avoid getting sleepy on the wheels.
You can have a cup of coffee if that’s available. But, under no circumstances you should drive under the influence of alcohol or marijuana. It’s unlawful to drive under the influences, and you can easily get into accidents.
6.Tweak your Dashboard Lights
If you have bright dashboard lights, you should dim them. Otherwise, it can be disorienting. Keep the lighting to a minimum so that the controls are visible, but they don’t cause you to lose focus on the road.
Do not neglect these tips for safe driving at night. Among other things, you should get your vision checked regularly. If your eyesight is not good at night, use a spectacle. However, even while using one, you should keep the glass smear-free. Or else, it might result in glares and distract you from driving. In case you are on a road trip, you may want to keep your dashcams focused on the road. These advanced night vision cameras have been known to capture some great footage on the road at night.