Your life and eyes 4 min read

10 guidelines for improving your driving at night

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Driving at night can be more dangerous than driving during the daytime due to darker conditions, glare from headlights and other road hazards. Because of these risks, it is important to maintain visual safety and take appropriate vehicle-related precautions.

Several guidelines can help you maintain overall safety for yourself and other road users while you are behind the wheel.

Here are ten things you can do to improve your night driving:

1. Make sure your glasses prescription is up to date

Whether you wear contact lenses or glasses, keeping your prescription up to date is a good idea, and can be a legal requirement. Driving without the appropriate prescription — with blurry or unclear vision — threatens your safety and the safety of others on the road.

If you drive a vehicle for your job (bus drivers, train conductors, etc.), your prescription requirements may be different than those required for a personal vehicle. Experts recommend getting an eye exam at least once every two years, or more often, depending on your condition, history and needs.

2. Maintain vehicle safety

Person pouring oil into the engine of their car

Once your prescription is up to date, you should also make sure your vehicle’s safety is up to date.

In the global status report on road safety in 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that road traffic injuries are the leading cause of deaths in children and young adults, and the eighth leading cause of death for people of all ages. This statistic highlights the importance of vehicle safety and other preventive measures.

The safety of your vehicle is critical under any circumstance, but especially for driving at night. Concerns with brakes, tyres and other mechanical issues should be addressed as soon as possible.

Day-to-day maintenance should also be tended to. Some things to keep in mind: Make sure the amount of fuel you have is sufficient, that your headlights are always turned on at night and in inclement weather, and that your windows and mirrors are clean and adjusted to the best angles for your viewing.

3. Keep paths of vision clean and clear

Cleanliness is a safety measure that is extremely important and often overlooked. Dirty car windows and mirrors can be distracting, and smudges and dirt can block your field of vision leading to dangerous situations. Be sure to regularly clean internal and external mirrors and windows to prevent hazards.

Dirty lenses can also have a negative impact on your driving. Check your lenses as you would check your mirrors before you start your car to ensure that they are clean. For quick smudge removal, keep a soft microfibre cloth on hand.

4. Consider an anti-reflective lens coating

In a study conducted by FESVIAL, Essilor and University of Valencia, 32.6% of drivers in Spain said they suffered from glare due to other vehicles, and 15% experienced glare from sunlight as they exited tunnels.

If you wear glasses, the glare from headlights and other reflections can shine through your lenses and obstruct your vision. A great way to reduce or prevent dangerous glare is by having a lens solution with an anti-reflective or anti-glare lens coating 

These unique enhancements eliminate reflections from the front and back of the lenses, allowing more light to pass through and improve your visual acuity—a great advantage to have when driving in low light or at night.

5. Be aware of weather and road hazards 

Road closure due to flooding

An estimated 3% of fatal crashes in the U.S. in 2017 were due to vision obscured by rain, snow, glare, trees, buildings, etc. The number of fatal accidents that resulted from swerving to avoid wind and slick surfaces due to weather clocked in at 2.1%.

You may not be able to control the weather, but you can control how you prepare for it. Conditions such as rain, ice, wind, and extremely hot or cold environments should all be taken seriously.

Make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition. Most wipers need to be changed about every six months — or as soon as you notice any dysfunction. Tyre pressure is also something to be mindful of, as it can drop when the temperature falls. It is also best to avoid icy roads if you can.

Road hazards such as poorly lit streets, potholes, animals crossing or construction can also affect drivers, causing them to collide or overcorrect their steering. An estimated 3.5% of fatal accidents in the U.S. in 2017 were attributed to over steering.

Keep in mind that each of these factors is more pronounced at night since darkness makes it even more challenging to see. If you are planning a road trip, keep in mind that climates may vary by region. Unexpected construction and other road hazards can also pop up — so always remain attentive at the wheel.

6. Be mindful of headlights

Some cars do not have automatic lights, so drivers must remember to turn their headlights on in darker conditions, including dawn, dusk, night-time and inclement weather. Without proper headlight use, your vision can be obstructed, and it may be difficult for other drivers to see you.

If you are alone on a dark road, turning on your high beams can help you see more clearly and avoid hazards such as roaming animals and road bumps. Just remember to turn the setting off if you see another car approaching — and never use your bright lights behind another vehicle.

Avoid looking into the headlights of passing cars on the other side of the road and keep your eyes in the direction you are going. A useful focal point? The median or dividing line of the road, or the car ahead of you.

Intense light can affect your view from any direction — so if the vehicle behind you has their high beams on, you can alert them by momentarily adjusting your rear-view mirror to reflect the bright lights at them. 

7. Add distance between you and other vehicles

It can be challenging to see everything in the dark, so it’s a good idea to keep a safe distance from the car in front of you, in case they come to an abrupt stop. Similarly, if someone is following too closely behind you, it may be in your best interest to let them pass.

You only have control over your driving, and no matter how careful you are, others may not be as cautious. Distancing yourself from other cars on the road is also a great way to keep bright headlights from obstructing your vision and theirs.

8. Avoid distractions 

Road sign saying Keep Attention To Driving

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately nine people are killed, and over 1,000 injured, in crashes involving a distracted driver every day in the U.S. Distracted driving can include physical, cognitive and visual activities.

Using a mobile phone, taking your hands off the steering wheel or taking your eyes or mind off the road briefly can have serious consequences. According to the CDC, taking your eyes off the road for just five seconds at a speed of 55 miles per hour is enough time to drive the length of 100 yards or around 91 metres.

Bright sunshine may cause you to reach for your sunglasses while you are driving, but it is best to stop in a safe place to do this. Prevent distracted driving by merely staying alert on the road and aware of the drivers around you.

9. Avoid eye fatigue on the road

Eye fatigue can be a visual distraction in itself, so it’s essential to be cautious of it and know how to prevent it while you are driving.

You should always keep your eyes on the road, but staring into the distance for too long can cause eye fatigue and create illusions — like the road and other stationary objects moving around in front of you. Experts suggest taking breaks from driving if you are experiencing blurriness or symptoms of eye fatigue.

If you are stuck on a road without a place to pull over, you can keep your eyes moving by glancing at road signs, number plates and other things that do not require you to take your focus away from the road itself.

10. Don’t drive if you are tired

On a larger scale of exhaustion is driver’s fatigue. Often referred to as drowsy driving, it can have impacts similar to those of drunk driving — and it is estimated that up to 6,000 fatal crashes may be caused by drowsy drivers every year.

In addition to the established tiredness, dark lighting can trigger your body to slow down, which is a danger to your alertness on the road. If your eyes start to close while you are driving, it can have an immediate impact that is a danger to you and other drivers.

Taking regular breaks is vital and necessary for safety on the road.

 

Driving at night can be a more dangerous task than driving in the daytime. Keep these tips in mind to improve your night-time driving, and always use safe and proper judgment before getting behind the wheel.

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