Whether you’re planning a family road trip or working hours that require travel in the wee hours, take special care when driving at night. From low visibility to fatigue, certain hazards are a built-in part of driving in the dark. Here are a few tips to make your nocturnal travels safer for you and the other night-riders you’re sharing the road with.
Clean your headlights and windshield. If dirt has built up on your headlights or windshield, your visibility will be further impaired at night. Grime build-up on your windshield increases the glare from oncoming headlights and streetlights, while dirty headlights shine less light on the road ahead.
Get your eyes checked. Issues with your vision can exacerbate the inherent challenges of driving at night. Nearsightedness, certain medications, cataracts, or simply greater sensitivity to glare as we age can all contribute to poor visibility on dark roads. Make a trip to the eye doctor, who can make sure you have the appropriate prescription for night driving.
Use your high beams. Don’t be afraid to turn on your high beams when there is no oncoming traffic as these super-charged lights can dramatically increase visibility. Just be ready to quickly switch them off when a car approaches. Switch to low beams when you’re driving behind another vehicle or in the fog, rain, or snow.
Pay more attention to speed. While maintaining the speed limit is important at all times, it’s critical to do so when driving at night. Reduced visibility means it will be more difficult to react quickly when a dangerous situation arises, and driving too fast will make it even tougher. Maintain a following distance of at least three seconds between you and the car in front of you. To measure this, locate a fixed object in front of you and count slowly to three. If you pass it before you’ve reached three, you’re driving too fast.
Watch for DUI drivers. Unfortunately, some of your fellow drivers on the road at night are making their way home from a night of revelry where they may have indulged in substances that will impair their driving. Make sure you’re vigilant about identifying drivers who may be under the influence. If they’re driving too fast—or much too slow—not correctly aligned in the lane, or reacting poorly, such as slamming on the breaks at a stop sign, these can be signs that they’re driving while impaired. Increase your following time by a few seconds or choose another route, if possible.