Safety Tips for Night Driving

man driving at night

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Driving in the dark is different from driving during the daylight hours. Depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision can all be compromised in the dark. Add to that the glare of headlights and night driving can be unnerving enough to keep you off the road. Fortunately, there are strategies to help you stay safe and feel more confident about driving at night.

The following tips will help you improve your night vision and reach your destination safely.

Prepare Your Car

Keeping your car in good shape overall, by having regular oil changes, inspections, and checking tire pressure, is important no matter what time of day you're driving. At night, it's important to:

  • Turn off all interior lights and dim your dashboard. Any source of light inside the car will make it more difficult to see outside.
  • Clean the windshield, as well as all other windows, to eliminate streaks.
  • Thoroughly clean headlights, taillights, and signal lights.

Take Your Time

Allow your eyes a chance to adjust to the darkness before you start driving. It takes a few minutes for the pupils to fully dilate, allowing for maximum light to enter the eye. The more light your pupils let enter the eye, the better your vision will be.

Try Techniques for Night Driving

To feel more in control while night driving, consider making the following adjustments:

  • Look to the bottom right of the road to avoid approaching headlights. (Some headlights are blindingly bright.) Also, use the night setting on your rearview mirror to deflect the glare from vehicles behind you.
  • Reduce your driving speed to give yourself longer to react if something happens on the road in front of you. Driving at a slower speed will also give you more confidence.

See Your Eye Doctor Regularly

Staying up to date on eye exams will ensure that any prescription glasses you may wear are up to date and any eye problems, such as dry eye syndrome or cataracts, are addressed.

If you wear glasses, make sure they're anti-reflective.

Stay Alert and Well-Rested

A National Sleep Foundation (NSF) poll says 6o percent of adults have driven while they were tired, and another 37 percent, or 103 million people, have fallen asleep at the wheel. Of those, 13 percent say they fall asleep while driving at least once a month, and 4 percent say they have caused a crash by falling asleep while driving. Doing shift work, a lack of quality sleep, long work hours, and sleep disorders are the usual culprits.

Signs that you are getting tired and may be at risk of falling asleep include:

  • Yawning or blinking frequently
  • Difficulty remembering the past few miles driven
  • Missing your exit
  • Drifting from your lane
  • Hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road

The NSF offers these tips for remaining alert on the road:

  • Get seven or more hours of sleep a night
  • Don't drive if you've been awake for 16 hours or more
  • Stop every two hours to rest
  • Pullover and take a short nap if you're drowsy
  • Travel during times you are normally awake
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