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Safety Tips for Driving at Night

Safety Tips for Driving at Night

Driving at night is significantly more dangerous than driving during the day. You're likely to be more fatigued; your vision isn't as good, and many other drivers feel the same way. That's why it's so important to be cautious when driving at night. Learning how to stay safe at night will keep you more protected whenever you have to go out at night. While it's always best to avoid driving in the dark, if you can't do that, you can learn about simple steps you can take to make things safer overall.

When You Drive At Night, You Should:

  • Adjust your headlights occasionally
  • Dim your rearview mirror
  • Use your high beams as much as you can
  • Slow down
  • Always signal before a turn

Never Drive When You're Tired

If you can avoid driving while tired, you should. Operating a motor vehicle while fatigued is one of the most dangerous things you can do. People get into accidents every day because they fall asleep while driving. Whether you're traveling overnight, you work the night shift, or you're just driving at night for recreational purposes, you should pay close attention to how tired you are before you drive. If you're feeling very fatigued, you should take a nap before driving if you can. If you can't nap, try and have someone else drive for you to avoid driving tired.

Make Sure Your Car Is Safe to Drive At Night

Whether driving in the city or on the open highway, it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings. This is especially true at night when visibility is limited. During the night driving, you should:

  • Make sure your headlights are in good working condition. Clean your headlight lenses and windshield regularly to ensure optimal light output. If your headlights are damaged or not pointing in the right direction, have them fixed as soon as possible.
  • Check your taillights regularly to make sure they are clean and functioning correctly. Brake lights that are too dim or don’t light up at all can be a severe safety hazard.
  • Drive with extra caution in areas where streetlights are few and far between. Slow down and keep your eyes peeled for potential hazards, such as animals or debris on the road. If you can, avoid driving on unfamiliar roads after dark.
  • If you find yourself driving in fog or heavy rain, pull over if possible and turn on your hazard lights until the weather clears up. Driving in these conditions can be extremely dangerous, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Avoid Driving At Night If You Have Poor Night Vision

As people age, many begin to struggle to see well at night. If you have poor night vision, you should slow down significantly and avoid driving after dark whenever possible. It's important to have an annual vision checkup to monitor your vision properly. By getting your eyes checked regularly, you can learn when your vision is changing so you can consider things like whether your night vision is getting worse or not.

Stay Away from Small Two-Lane Highways At Night

Two-lane highways are not the friendliest of places for night driving. The glare and blinding effects that stem from oncoming traffic can be hazardous. They are more dangerous to drive on at night than during the day, even when it has less traffic.

If you must travel on a small two-lane highway at night, be extra cautious and watch for potential hazards. Also, slow down and increase your following distance from another car when you drive at night. Slower speeds give you additional time to respond to each situation should anything happen at night on a two-lane highway.

Be Wary of Wildlife

If you’re driving at night, be extra cautious of wildlife. Deer are highly active at night, and they can dart out into the road without warning. If you see a deer in or near the street, slow down and be prepared to stop. If you hit a deer, pull over to the side of the road and call the police.

Use Your Lighting Appropriately 

If you find yourself driving at night more often than during the daytime, there are some things you can do to make your drive safer. One of the most critical safety tips for driving at night is to use your lightning appropriately. You should use regular headlights when visibility is good, and you don’t need extra light. It would be best to use high beams when visibility is poor, such as when there’s no street lighting or fog is present. Fog lights should only be used when visibility is severely decreased, such as when driving in heavy fog.

Another safety tip for driving at night is to keep your car clean. A clean windshield will allow you to see better, and dirty headlights can decrease the amount of light emitted. Make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition so that you can see clearly in case of rain or snow.

Finally, it’s essential to stay alert when driving at night. Get plenty of rest before a long night drive, and take breaks often if you’re tired. Avoid alcohol and drugs, even cough medicine, before driving, as they will impair your ability to focus and react quickly.

Adjust Your Mirrors for Nighttime Driving

If you don't have auto-dimming mirrors, you should be manually dimming the rearview mirror on your vehicle when you are driving at night. Many people don't realize their rearview mirrors have a dimming feature that makes driving at night more comfortable. If you have a decent amount of experience driving at night, then you know how bright and unpleasant a driver's high beams can be if they're following behind you. What you may not realize is that even older vehicles give you a way to fight off this issue. The small black tab under your rearview mirror can be moved forward and back to switch between day and night driving modes. You'll notice you aren't hit by glare while in night driving mode, and you should always switch between the two before driving at night.

Use Your High Beams Whenever Possible

Use Your High Beams Whenever PossibleWhile it can seem like extra work to have to switch between your low beams and your high beams whenever you approach another driver at night, it's still best to use your high beams as much as possible when you are driving at night. Your high beams allow you to see more clearly and give you more time to react to obstacles in the road at night. Without using your high beams, you are making driving more dangerous for yourself, and you could end up hitting an animal, an object in the road, or another obstacle because you didn't see it soon enough to react. Newer cars even have a feature that will adjust from high beams to low beams when a vehicle approaches automatically to save you from the distraction of having to do it yourself.

Why Should You Drive Slower At Night?

No matter how good you believe you are at driving at night, you should always drive slower than you do during the day when traveling on the same roads. Avoid distractions such as using your phone or changing the radio station. Your reaction times are slower at night for a few reasons:

  • Typically, you are more tired at night, affecting alertness and response speed.
  • Night driving limits visibility of your surroundings, delaying identification of potential obstacles.
  • Reduced visibility means encountering obstacles with less time to react, compared to daytime driving.

When driving at night and you encounter curves, what do you have to remember? You need to know that you can't see your surroundings well and you might be in danger or have a car approaching you from the other direction that you don't know about. Take caution. Give yourself more space between other cars on the road, take corners more slowly, and drive with caution, and you'll be safe while traveling at night. 

Signal For Every Turn Without Exception

Signal For Every Turn Without ExceptionVehicles are less likely to notice what you're doing when you drive at night. You should signal for every turn you make, but this is even more important when driving at night. Some drivers won't have any clue what you're up to, and putting on your signal awhile before you turn gives the other drivers time to slow down and stay out of your way.

Tips For Driving at Night

Driving at night can be dangerous, and it’s essential to be extra cautious when behind the wheel after dark. Here are some safety tips for driving at night that can save your life:

  • Do not drive when drowsy or fatigued. Being well-rested is vital before setting out on a long road trip or driving late at night. If you feel yourself getting sleepy, pull over and take a break. Have a cup of coffee or take a short nap to rejuvenate yourself before continuing your journey.
  • Use your high beams wisely. High beams can be blinding to oncoming traffic, so use them sparingly. Only use them when there is no oncoming traffic and when it’s necessary, such as when driving in fog or on dark, deserted roads.
  • Be aware of your blind spots. All cars have blind spots – areas where other vehicles can’t be seen in the rearview or side mirrors. When changing lanes, always check your blind spot by looking over your shoulder before moving.
  • Don’t rely too heavily on technology. GPS systems and other electronic devices can be helpful, but don’t let them distract you from driving safely. If possible, program your destination into the GPS before starting out so you don’t have to fiddle with it while behind the wheel. 

    Following these simple tips from GoodCar can help keep yourself and those around you safe while driving at night.

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