The Holiday Season is probably the most traveled times of the year. We travel at all hours of the day, sometimes even traveling into the wee hours of the night and early morning. With weather conditions changing, holiday traffic, and the days getting shorter, we all may find ourselves driving in the nighttime. Road fatalities occur at a rate that is three times greater at night than at any other time of day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Your depth perception, ability to distinguish color, and peripheral vision are all worse in the evening and because of this, you tend to be more tired with the reduced light exposure. So I decided that I wanted to do a little bit of research and share some tips for driving at night.
- Aim your headlights: According to the NHTSA, headlights can sometimes be uneven or pointed lower than necessary, which means that it is worth it to aim them correctly. If you do it yourself, consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual and be patient because it can take a few tried before you have them correctly pointed.
- Remember to clean off the dirt from your headlights often. If you have a car with plastic lens covers, those covers may have yellowed or faded never the years – the best fix for this is to buy a headlight polish kit so your lights will shine brightly.
- Dim your Dash Lights: Cars come with dashboard dimmer switches so that you can adjust the lights. When driving in the evening, having these lights on max could greatly compromise your forward vision and therefore can become a distraction.
- Watch out for animals: this is especially important when you are driving on dark country roads – animals are everywhere. And an encounter with an animal and your car can be devastating, for everyone involved.
- The best thing to do if/when you encounter an animal on the road at nighttime is to slow down as quickly as you possibly can. Don’t come to a screeching halt. If you try to steer around a deer, they oftentimes will follow your lights and will move in front of you – as they are drawn to light.
- Try not to stare at oncoming lights: whether those are car lights or street lights, it can greatly impair your vision. Bright lights can disrupt your concentration and it is advised to try to focus on something other then the lights on the road.
- If a car is traveling behind you and has its high-beams on, you can move your rearview mirror to reflect the light backward to alert the driver, and to get the reflection away from your eyes.
- Wipe your windshield with newspaper: this is actually a trick my mom taught me when I would work late night shifts. Windshields that appear clean in the daytime, may reveal streaks at night and cause a glare. A trick is to polish the glass with windex and newspaper to remove any additional residue.
- Try not to touch the inside surfaces of the windshield. The oil from your skin may end up smearing and light will glare when it shines through any place where you touched the glass with bare hands. Keeping a cotton or microfiber cloth and some window cleaner, such as windex in your trunk is recommended.
- Clean and adjust your exterior mirrors: dirty mirrors reflect the lights from cars behind you. There have been many times when my exterior mirrors have been dirty and light has reflected into my car.
- It is also recommended that you aim your exterior mirrors so that you can move your head out of the path of lights reflected in them. That way you can see cars behind you by tipping your head slightly forward, but you keep the other car’s headlights out of your eyes – thus preventing them from temporarily blinding you with their high beams.
We hope as you continue to travel this season, whether it is down the street, a few towns over, or farther, that these tips help to make your travel just a little bit easier.
If you have been in an accident, please contact us today to discuss your case. Consultations are free.