If you hear about a fatal car accident (where inclement weather wasn’t involved), chances are, the crash happened at night.
That’s because night driving presents all sorts of challenges that day driving doesn’t:
- Compromised night vision, especially for older drivers
- Driver fatigue
- Limited visibility, exacerbated by fog, snow, and rain
- Higher chances of encountering impaired drivers
Fortunately, some of these challenges are preventable, and others can be improved. In this article, we’ll be discussing the best ways to improve your night driving skills in order to make the roads safer for everyone.
Valuable Tips for Night Driving
If you’ve noticed that it’s difficult for you to see clearly when driving at night, the best thing you can do is avoid night driving altogether. Still, if you must drive at night for whatever reason, here are some ways to help maximize clearer vision and minimize your risks.
Know What to Do When High Beams Come Your Way
Not all drivers are as courteous as they could be, and some may not dim their high beams as they come toward you in the opposite direction. When this happens, avoid looking directly into their lights, and instead, look toward the lower right side of the road near the fog line (the solid painted line on the outer edge of the road near the shoulder).
If you have high beams bothering you from behind and shining brightly back at you from your rearview mirror, remember to tilt your mirror so that the lights’ reflection doesn’t go directly into your eyes.
Just as you would slow down in a winter ice storm or a heavy rain, you should also slow your speed at night. A good rule of thumb is to slow down approximately 5 mph from the speed that you would normally be driving in the daytime. The goal is to drive at a comfortable speed (that’s not too slow), so if 5 mph less is still too fast, slow down a little more.
If you’re still not sure how fast to go, simply try to go the speed at which you would still be able to stop if an object outside of your headlights’ span suddenly presented as an obstacle in front of you.
Focus on the Edges of Objects
When looking at oncoming vehicles or objects on the side of the road or in the distance, focus on the edges and outlines of the objects instead of staring directly at them. This one may be a little hard to understand at first, but once you’re out on the road at night, you’ll better understand what we mean.
Our eyes simply understand objects within their surroundings better and more sharply when they are regarded as a whole — and this means focusing on their sides and edges as opposed to their centers.
Be Your Own Watch Dog
Finally, remember that being overly tired is one of the most dangerous things you can do while driving at any time of the day. Those who’ve crashed because they fell asleep at the wheel also“thought they’d be fine” just like you. This is a truly unwise (but fairly typical) assumption of all tired drivers.
Don’t wait until you’ve already nodded off or swerved over the median to pull over. Even if it means calling a family member in the middle of the night or spending money on a hotel, it’s always safer to stop driving completely if you’re feeling fatigued.
Use these tips to improve your night driving, and you’ll be contributing to safer roads for all drivers and passengers.