Nighttime driving is inherently challenging due to decreased visibility, but these simple tips can help you navigate dark roads more safely.
According to data from the National Safety Council, about half of all traffic fatalities happen at night, even though only about a quarter of travel occurs after dark.
Winter is the coldest and darkest season. The sun sets well before 6:00 p.m. throughout January and into February in most places, so if you commute home from work or regularly drive at night, please be extra vigilant; especially during evening rush hours from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
These simple tips can make it a safer ride for yourself and others on the road.
TOP TIPS FOR NIGHTTIME DRIVING
- Keep your windshield and headlights clean. Dirty windshields spread the glare of oncoming headlights making it more difficult to see. Maintain good levels of washer fluid and check windshield wiper blades regularly to ensure they are in good working order. Also, be sure to clean the inside of your windshield regularly because there’s routine buildup that occurs even in the cleanest cars.
- Use your brights at night in almost all cases, except when there is oncoming traffic. Most drivers underutilize their high beams. Generally, you don’t need to use high beams in town or in heavy traffic, but high beams can be helpful on the open road and in rural areas. To avoid temporarily blinding oncoming traffic, be sure to dim your brights within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle, and don’t use the high beams when you are directly behind another vehicle.
- Check headlight alignment. Wear and tear on your car can cause misalignment, and some cars are manufactured with misaligned headlights. If your car is casting a light that looks too high or otherwise out of whack, ask your local auto shop to adjust the alignment of your headlights.
- Reset the illumination levels of your dashboard lights and any in-car screens. Bright dashboard LEDs and large infotainment screens are finding their way into vehicles, adding extra sources of unnecessary and distracting lighting that can diminish your nighttime vision. Dimming dash lights can remove reflections on the windshield and allow your eyes to better adjust to the darkness ahead, improving nighttime visibility.
- If you drive an older vehicle, consider replacing your headlights and housings. Headlights can last anywhere from 15-20 years on average before it is best to replace them. For vehicles made before the year 2000 that still have the original headlights, it is often recommended to change them.
- Consider an eye exam. If you are struggling to see when driving at night, you’re not alone. Many people have night vision problems that make driving after the sun sets more difficult. Drivers 65 years or older should be especially vigilant if they must drive in the dark. As we age, our ability to distinguish color and contrast in low light diminishes significantly; our pupils get smaller too. By the time we hit our 60s, the backs of our eyes receive only one-third the light they did when we were 20.
Everyone wants to see better at night, so please take a moment to share these tips with other drivers in your household, other family members and friends.