Summer is almost here, and with summer comes late nights, road trips, and family vacations, any of which can result in some of the riskiest behavior around, nighttime driving.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the death rate from traffic accidents at night is three times higher than the death rate during the day, with the time frame with the highest risk being between midnight and six in the morning. Several factors cause the increase in danger with night driving, including darkness, driver fatigue, and greater likelihood of driver intoxication.
The National Safety Council estimates that ninety percent of accident avoidance is dependant upon the driver’s sight, and studies have shown just how severely diminished a driver’s vision becomes after the sun goes down. This effect is even greater for older drivers.
Both fatigue and being under the influence of alcohol affect ability to concentrate on driving, as well as slowing reaction time. Alcohol is one of the leading factors in auto accidents that result in fatalities, which is why weekend nights are the most dangerous time to be on the road.
Night driving is always more risky than daytime driving, but there are steps that a driver can take to reduce some of this danger. The following are some of the National Safety Council’s recommendations for helping to keep nighttime driving safe.
Keep the visual components of your car in the best working order. Make sure that your headlights are aimed correctly. If they are too far up or too far down, headlights have the potential to both impair your own vision and that of passing cars. Also, keep up your ability to see by cleaning all lights, including headlights, taillights, and signal lights, as well as all car windows as often as needed. The NSC recommends cleaning your car’s visual devices at least once a week.
While on the road, don’t hesitate to turn on your headlights. As the sun starts to go down, you may still be able to see, but having your headlights turned on helps other drivers to see you. Keep your headlights on low to avoid impeding the sight of the drivers in front of you, and if an approaching car fails to turn down its high beams, avoid the blinding light by watching the line at the right side of the road.
Reducing your speed is a good idea, as it is more difficult to judge distance at night, and it is important to stay within a safe stopping speed. Your headlights reach only so far, and what’s beyond them at any given time on a dark road is anyone’s guess. Make sure, if something appears before you, you have time to stop.
When taking long drives, it is important to make frequent stops even during the day. Driving fatigue can set in as little as two hours. It is especially important at night to make those clockwork stops at least every two hours though. A tired driver is a dangerous driver.