If you are an experienced driver, you may intuitively know that driving after dark is less safe than traveling during daylight hours, but you may not realize just how much more hazardous nighttime driving really is. The statistics on night driving are simply staggering, and they are certainly a cause for concern behind the wheel.
According to the National Safety Council, more than half of all driver fatalities take place between dusk and dawn. The numbers for pedestrians are even worse. Nearly three-quarters of all fatal pedestrian accidents take place after dark, and those numbers are all the more astonishing when you realize that nighttime driving accounts for just one-quarter of miles driven.
If you want to stay safer behind the wheel and protect those around you, a proactive approach is definitely in order. You may not be able to create more light or extend daytime hours, but there are steps you can take to drive more safely after dark. Here are some things you can do to improve nighttime safety behind the wheel.
Get Regular Eye Exams
As you age, your ability to see well after dark slowly diminishes. Depending on your other health conditions, this diminishment of night vision could move more quickly. You may not even realize that your ability to safely drive at night has been diminished. That is, not until you have an accident.
This gradual change in your nighttime vision is one more reason to get an annual eye exam. Having your vision checked at least once a year will help you catch any looming problems early. A simple change in prescription or new set of contact lenses could reverse the deficit and help you drive more safely.
If you do have certain health conditions or eye problems, you may need to reduce your nighttime driving or stick to daytime outings. Work with your eye care professional to develop a plan that ensures your safety without sacrificing your independence.
Plan Your Route Carefully
If your night vision is not as sharp as it used to be, a simple change of route could make your after-dark adventures safer. If you have a choice, stick to well-lighted roadways and city streets with ample lighting.
When you must venture onto less well-lighted roads, slow your speed to make up for your lesser visual acuity. Driving at slower speeds gives you additional time to react to pedestrians, animals and other potential road hazards.
Use Your High Beams Whenever You Can
High beams provide nearly 30% more light than low beams, so use them whenever you can. Be sure to turn your high beams down when a vehicle is approaching, then turn them up again when it is safe to do so.
If you are in the market for a new vehicle, choose one with adaptive lighting. These lights can enhance your safety after dark and reduce the risk of an accident. This adaptive technology automatically switches from low beams to high based on traffic conditions. It essentially becomes one less thing to worry about when behind the wheel.
Replace or Refresh Your Headlights
It is easy to overlook your headlights when inspecting your car, but you do so at your own peril. Over time, the light shining through those headlights can dim markedly, reducing your ability to drive safely after dark.
Since these changes take place slowly over time, they are easy to miss. If you are having more trouble driving after dark than you used to, your headlights could be to blame. Having the headlights cleaned and professionally refreshed could restore their lost light and keep you safer behind the wheel.
If refreshing your headlights does not do the trick, you can choose to replace them altogether. Headlight technology has come a long way. For instance, adding a new set of lights to your car could restore your ability to drive safely in the dark.
There is no question that driving after dark is more hazardous than driving during daytime hours. Statistics show that getting behind the wheel at night is always going to be more hazardous. If you must venture out after dark, the tips listed above can help you, your passengers and passing pedestrians stay safer.
If you or a loved one is hurt in a car accident while driving at night, an experienced lawyer can help. Our attorneys will help ensure that at-fault drivers are held accountable and you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today or a complimentary case evaluation.