Late night driving can be quite an enjoyable experience, as one may get the feeling that they have a mostly empty road all to themselves, without the traffic headaches or hurried fellow drivers. What few drivers realize is that more car accidents, and more fatal car accidents occur at night than at any other time of day. Driving at night is a much more dangerous proposition than day driving for a number of reasons, many have nothing to do with the lack of light.
To begin, more people socialize during non-working hours, which tend to be at night for most people. Because of this, the incidents of drivers impaired by drugs or alcohol is much higher after dark. Add to this the factor of driver fatigue and the recipe for disaster is created. Commercial vehicles such as tractor trailers are more prevalent at night, as drivers attempt to “make time” while the traffic volume is at it’s lowest. These large vehicles are not nearly as maneuverable as the family car, and an impaired driver can be the cause of an horrific chain reaction accident involving multiple vehicles. In poor weather, salt and snow removal crews are less active at night to preserve resources for the heaviest traffic times, making the highways more dangerous.
While late night driving does present certain challenges because of a shorter field of vision, it should be remembered that even if you can see adequately, the other driver may not. The term “defensive driving” is never more valuable in it’s concept than at night, when it may become necessary to actually dodge a drunk or sleeping driver barreling at you at 60 miles per hour.
A driver can take steps to improve their personal safety at night, beginning with ensuring their vehicle is properly maintained. Making certain that your vehicle is operating properly includes brakes, steering and proper tire inflation. Something as simple as driving with a clean windshield and headlights, and making sure windshield wipers are good and windshield wiper fluid reservoirs are filled can mean the difference between life and death.
Perhaps the most important safety aspect of late night driving is in the area of personal behavior, and exhibiting safe personal habits. Make certain your attention is not diverted away from the road by music, and cell phones should never be used while driving, in fact, they should be turned off. If you need to drive late at night, make sure you are well rested, and if you need eye glasses always wear them while driving. Make frequent stops to stretch your legs and get some fresh air, as this practice will help keep you alert on long night driving trips.