Most drivers are used to being on the road at night, and yet many don’t realize the dangers involved. Many of the most serious road threats — drunk driving, speeding, etc. — are more prevalent at night, and each one makes getting in a crash and being injured or killed more likely. So what can you do to protect yourself on the roads in the dark? What are smart, protective steps to take to stay safe as a driver? Below, consider eight of the top tips for safe driving at nighttime. To protect yourself on the road, here is what to do:
1. Use Your Headlights: From about an hour before dusk up until an hour after dawn, have your headlights on to improve visibility on the road. In fact, any time you’re in doubt about whether or not to have your lights on, turn them on. Likewise, make sure they’re aligned so that they can function properly — and check regularly to make sure one hasn’t gone out.
- Keep Your Car Properly Maintained: Even when it seems like your car is working well, it’s still important to conduct regular maintenance checks in order to prevent serious problems on the road. Are your signals working? How about your brake lights? Of course it almost goes without saying that you need to pay attention to warning lights that come up on the dashboard — respond to issues immediately in order to keep your car properly functioning at all times of the day and night.
- Clean and Adjust Your Mirrors: When your mirrors aren’t clean, you’ll deal with glares from other cars’ lights and have a harder time seeing clearly on the road. Clean your exterior mirrors regularly and adjust them so that you can see better around you.
Take Eyesight Problems Seriously: Good vision is vital on the road — especially at night. If you start to notice that it’s hard to see clearly when you’re driving in the dark, make a beeline for the eye doctor’s office as soon as possible. Drivers under the age of 40 are supposed to get eye exams every three years, anyway (and more often as they age). If you are noticing depth perception, peripheral vision or other vision issues, get your eyes checked out.
- Don’t Drink (or Smoke or Text) and Drive: Driver distractions account for a big portion of preventable crashes. While it should go without saying that you shouldn’t drink and drive (at night or otherwise), it’s also important to remember to skip the cigarette and put down the phone. Smoke in the car can cloud your vision, and texting distracts you from paying close attention to what’s happening around you. Likewise, don’t operate a vehicle while on medications that warn against driving while using them.
- Exercise Proper Caution on the Road: The same precautions that apply in bad weather or harsh road conditions can be helpful at night. Increase your following distance behind other cars, and lower your speed in order to be more careful.
- Don’t Try to Be a Hero: Whether you’re pulling an all-night drive from one part of the country to another or you’re just late coming home from a party, don’t try to push through major fatigue when you’re driving at night. If you feel tired, pay attention to that. Pull off somewhere and take a break. Falling asleep on the road could end your life and/or someone else’s.
- Avoid Staring into Oncoming Lights: Whether you’re on a crowded interstate or a rural two-lane highway, try not to stare into the oncoming bright lights of another vehicle. Look above the lights or past the car farther down the road in order to keep yourself from being distracted without realizing it.
In addition, whether it is day or night, you should always wear your seatbelt. With more than 50 years of research, we know that seat belts are the most effective safety feature ever invented for saving lives in a car crash.
In America, close to half of fatal crashes happen at night, and the fatality rate per mile is three times as high as during daytime hours, according to Forbes Magazine. So don’t hit the road unprepared! Follow the steps above to drive defensively and protectively when the sun goes down and the risk increases.
Have any of these tips made a difference for you? Let me know in the comments below.
Kimberly Quinones has served as the Vice President of Sales in the Midwest since 2008. Her role includes overseeing all aspects of Illinois Vehicle Auto Insurance’s sales, service, and customer retention programs. Her market spans from the far north, west and south suburbs of Chicago, to Indianapolis. Kim is a proactive leader with initiative and works diligently with her teams and customers to ensure a strong bond is built between our customers, and the teams she works with.