According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities on the road occur three times more often at night than during the day. Since visibility is dramatically decreased at night, drivers need to be hyper-focused when behind the wheel. In low-light conditions, depth perception, the ability to distinguish color and contrast, as well as peripheral vision, all worsen. When you factor in glare and light sensitivity due to on-coming drivers’ bright headlights, it’s no wonder that many people, particularly older drivers, begin to scale back their night-time driving. The following precautions can keep you safe while driving at night.
Night-Time Driving Safety Tips
1. Prepare your vehicle for night-time driving. The most important action you can take is to clean your windshield, inside and out, to reduce residue and dust that worsens night-time glare. Clean headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows as often as possible. Clean and adjust exterior mirrors. You should also have your headlight aim checked periodically.
2. Dim your instrument panel and dashboard lights at night. When these interior lights are at their brightest level they interfere with night vision.
3. Reduce your speed while driving at night and increase your following distances.
4. Switch your headlights to low beam when driving behind someone so you don’t blind them. At the same time, adjust your inside rear-view mirror to Night or Auto Dim setting which will prevent the light from rearview traffic from shining in your eyes.
5. If an oncoming vehicle doesn’t lower its beams from high to low, don’t stare into the oncoming lights, rather, avoid glare by watching the right edge of the road and use it as a steering guide.
6. If you have car trouble while driving at night, pull off the road as far as possible. Turn on your flashers and the dome light and stay off the roadway.
7. On Westchester’s country roads, animals are all around us. To avoid a collision with a nighttime critter, learn to spot the reflections of your headlights in their eyes. Tiny pairs of bright spots can be seen before you spot the animal itself. Also, the best strategy when you encounter a deer near the road is to slow down and stop. If you try to steer around deer, they will often follow your lights and move into your path.
8. Observe night driving safety as soon as the sun goes down. Twilight is one of the most difficult times to drive, because your eyes are constantly changing to adapt to the growing darkness. It’s a good idea to turn your headlights on at dusk to make it easier for other drivers to see you.