Aug 6, 2020
Night Driving Safety Tips All Drivers Need To Know
Driving at night can be very different than driving during the day. Many people don’t like to or have a fear of nighttime driving. Driving at night is challenging for most drivers. It can also be more dangerous.
Fatal accidents are three times more likely when driving at night, compared to the daytime. We can’t see as well in the dark. We see less of the road ahead, which gives drivers less time to react and to stop. Although we have lights to help, they can pose hazards to other drivers by creating glare.
Studies show people have lower depth perception, peripheral vision and the ability to distinguish colour when driving at night. Driving at night can be more dangerous due to reduced visibility, distractions, and drowsiness. We only do about one-quarter of our driving at night; however, 50% of traffic deaths happen past dusk.
By taking extra precautions, being alert, and sober, we can help reduce accidents when driving at night. In this blog we’ll provide you with 21 tips for driving at night. We’ll also answer common questions about nighttime driving.
Best Tips For Driving At Night
Day or night, you should be alert and feeling confident behind the wheel. Here are 21 tips to help you driver safer at night :
1) Use Your Lights
Use your daytime lights only during the day. Night lights are mandatory in urban areas, even if it is well-lit. Turn your lights on at least 30 minutes before sunrise and sunset.
For added light, use fog lights. Use them when it’s not foggy. They have a broader spread of light compared to low beams. If your vehicle has the capability, switch your lights to auto so you don’t forget to turn them on.
2) Know When To Use High Beams
Use high beams on rural and open roads when driving at night. If you see another vehicle approaching, dim them until they pass. High beams are blinding and create severe glare for drivers. If you are behind another vehicle, don’t use high beams. High beams will increase your view to 500 feet compared to standard lights that are 250 feet.
3) Keep Your View Clean
Make sure your windows are clear from bugs, road salt, dirt, and grease. If you have any cracks or scratches, get them fixed as soon as possible. Dirty or cracked windshields can scatter light and increase the effects of glare.
Invest in a new set of windshield wipers if the current set requires a replacement. Change wipers about every six to eight months because they accumulate grime that will spread onto your windshield.
4) Carry A Roadside Emergency Kit
Carry an emergency roadside kit in your car. Ensure it has jumper cables, a first aid kit, flashlights, batteries, blankets and other materials that can help in case of an emergency. If you do breakdown at night, emergency kits come with lighting aids. This will ensure you are visible to other drivers and emergency vehicles.
5) Change Interior Lighting
Dim your instrument panel and dash lights when driving at night. They can create distracting lighting inside your vehicle. Dimming them can remove reflections on your windows and windshield, allowing your eyes to adjust to the darkness ahead.
6) Watch For Wildlife
Many various sizes of nocturnal animals can become a hazard at night. To avoid any accidents, look for the light reflecting in tiny bright spots ahead on the road. If you encounter a large animal, slow down as quickly as you can. Do not exit your lane or driving off the road. Animals are common around dusk and a few hours after. Be mindful when driving through forested areas and fields.
7) Take Care Of Your Eyes
Choosing glasses with the anti-reflecting coating will prevent unnecessary light from reflecting inside the lenses and allowing light to pass through. Do not buy yellow-tint glasses. These glasses make objects and hazards more difficult to see at night because they limit the amount of light that passes through.
8) Look In The Right Direction
Avoid having a fixed gaze and never stare at oncoming headlights when driving at night. Shift your eyes down and to the right and use the right edge of the road or lane markings as a guide. Once the vehicle has passed, lift your gaze back up.
9) Take The Safe Route
When possible, take roads that are well lit. Two-lane highways have low light levels, sharp turns and hills.
10) Be A Defensive Driver
When driving at night, use your defensive driving instincts. Drive sober and avoid distracted driving. Be extra alert for other drivers, who might be driving irresponsibly.
11) Drive Sober
Impaired driving is dangerous and can ruin lives. Do your part to keep yourself and others safe by driving sober. Driving impaired increases the risk of getting into an accident. You could also end up in jail, pay huge fines, and it affects your car insurance rates. Call a cab, get a designated driver you trust, or take public transit. There is no excuse for driving impaired.
12) Plan Your Trip Ahead Of Time
Planning your trip ahead of time eases the stress of driving. Having a map already pulled up will limit you from distracted driving on your phone. Knowing what roads you are taking ahead of time can warn you if there is construction or any accidents on the way.
13) Drive According To Weather Conditions
Snow, rain and fog are all factors to consider when driving. Slow down, give your vehicle space between others and stay alert to changes ahead of you.
14) Minimize Glare From Other Vehicles
To minimize the glare from oncoming traffic, MTO recommends looking “up and beyond slightly to the right of oncoming traffic.” To reduce the glare from cars behind you, use the rear view mirror anti-glare feature.
15) Give Vehicles Space
When driving, you should give at least two seconds to the vehicle in front of you. At night, and in poor weather, you may want to double this amount.
16) Follow The Speed Limit
Adjust your speed and always consider road and weather conditions. Speed related crashes account for 37% of night driving fatalities, compared to 21% during the day. Driving at night lowers visibility and shorter reaction times; be mindful of your speed.
17) Restore Headlamps
Dirty, cloudy headlamps can lower the illumination from your lights. It can comprise how far ahead you can see when driving at night. If you notice the lenses are yellowed, it’s time to restore or replace the headlamps.
18) Aim Headlights Correctly
Headlights can become misaligned over time. Follow your owner’s manual or consult the dealership to adjust headlights correctly. If lights tilt down too much, you can lose proper illumination on the road. If they tilt too high, they can cause severe glare to oncoming drivers.
19) Wear Your Seatbelt
Not only does a seatbelt keep you safe, but you will avoid a ticket. If you are caught driving without a seatbelt, it could affect your car insurance rates.
20) Take Regular Breaks
Take a break every two hours when driving long distances. This will help your body and mind relax from the constant motion from driving and allow you to be more alert when you get behind the wheel.
21) Drive Alert and Without Distraction
Put the phone down, take breaks and focus on the road. Avoid driving if you are feeling fatigued. When driving with distractions or drowsiness, your reaction time can be impacted. Keep your eyes on the road, check your mirrors; driving is not the time to be calling or texting.
Between midnight and 6 am, drowsy driving accidents are more likely to happen. Be alert of other drivers, and yourself, during these times. Take breaks, have a coffee, or stop for the night if you are feeling impacted by drowsiness when driving - day or night.
How Can I See Better When Driving At Night?
Here is what you can do to help see better when driving at night:
- Keep your windshield and mirrors clean of dirt, bugs, and damages.
- Use the correct lights. Daytime lights are not bright enough for night driving. High beams should only be used on country roads and switched off when oncoming traffic appears.
- Dim your interior lights and dashboard.
- Schedule an eye exam. Do not buy yellow-tinted glasses.
- Use the night setting on your rearview mirror to minimize glare.
- Do not stare into the lights of oncoming traffic.
What Are Some Night Driving Tips In Bad Weather?
Rain, snow, and fog can reduce your visibility when driving at night. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when driving at night in bad weather.
- Increase your following distance and lower your speed in bad weather. You may need extra time to break and avoid hazards.
- If you need to drive in fog, use fog lights to shine a light on pavement markings and use the right edge of the road as your guide. High beams should not be used because they reflect off the moisture droplets, making it harder to see.
- Rain makes the road slippery. If you are driving too fast, you risk hydroplaning. Slow down when it is raining and avoid driving through puddles and flooded areas.
- Snow has many forms and dangerous on the road. It can be as slippery as ice or full of hard bumps.
- Look ahead, drive slow and give space. Avoid sudden steering, braking and accelerating. Be mindful of whiteouts and blowing snow. Use winter tires for added grip on the road.
- When temperatures drop below freezing, wet roads can turn to ice. If the road ahead looks black and shiny, be mindful of black ice.
How Can I Stay Awake When Driving Late At Night?
Staying alert when driving at night is crucial to protect yourself and other drivers. Some options are better than others. Here is what you can do to stay awake when driving at night:
- Never drive intoxicated.
- Take a break every two hours or when you need one.
- Drink caffeine.
- Plan to have enough sleep before hitting the road, or the night before.
- Avoid planning trips late at night.
- Drive with another person and take turns.
- Don’t rush and drive the speed limit.
- If possible, save the trip for the next day when you are well-rested.
How Can I Get Over The Fear Of Driving At Night?
Practice will help you overcome fear or anxiety when driving at night. If you need to, practice with another experienced driver. Drive the speed limit, don’t rush, put the phone down, and keep your windshield and mirrors clear. By driving in a clean, low distraction vehicle, you can focus on the road and cars around you.
Night Driving FAQs
Here are some more frequently asked questions about night driving :
Use the low beam night lights when you are within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle or following a car within 200 feet. On country roads, you can use high beams, but make sure you switch to low beams when you see oncoming cars until they have passed, or are approaching a car from behind. Daytime lights are not bright enough to use at night.
Driving at night can be more dangerous due to reduced visibility, distractions, and drowsiness. 50% of traffic fatalities happen at night, even though we only do about one-quarter of our driving at nighttime. By taking extra precautions, being alert, and sober, we can help reduce accidents when driving at night.
Yellow tinted night driving glasses are non-prescription glasses that are advertised to minimize glare when driving at night. Don’t let the idea fool you, and they are not proven to work. These glasses enhance the contrast with certain daylight conditions. However, at night, they reduce overall visible light by blocking a portion of HEV blue light.
Schedule an eye exam and have your optometrist help you choose a comfortable pair that will help you drive at night. They will often suggest an anti-reflecting coating.
Glare is caused at night from the lights of oncoming vehicles that can be reflected through your windshield and mirrors. You can prevent glare from oncoming traffic by looking up and beyond slightly to the right of oncoming vehicles. To minimize the glare from cars behind you, use the rearview mirror anti-glare feature. Be considerate when you are driving with high beams.
Look up and slightly beyond to the right of oncoming vehicles to prevent glare. To minimize the glare from cars behind you, use the rear view mirror anti-glare feature. If you use glasses, choose ones with the anti-reflecting coating to prevent unnecessary light from reflecting inside the lenses.
According to Consumer Reports, these are the best cars for night driving.
- Subcompact Cars : Best: Honda Fit, Worst: Chevrolet Spark
- Compact Hatchbacks : Best: Fiat 500L/Volkswagen Golf, Worst: Toyota C-HR
- Luxury Compact Cars : Best: Infiniti Q50, Worst: Kia Stinger/Mercedes-Benz CLA
- Midsized Sedans : Best: Subaru Legacy, Worst: Honda Clarity
- Sports/Sporty Cars : Best: Subaru WRX, Worst: Chevrolet Camaro
- Compact SUVs : Best: Subaru Forester, Worst: GMC Terrain
- Luxury Compact SUVs : Best: Audi Q5, Worst: Jaguar I-Pace
- Midsized SUVs (2-row) : Best: Honda Passport, Worst: Nissan Murano
- Midsized SUVs (3-row) : Best: Honda Pilot, Worst: Nissan Pathfinder
- Luxury Midsize SUVs : Best: Land Rover Range Rover, Worst: Tesla Model X
Glasses with anti-reflecting coating will prevent unnecessary light from reflecting inside the lenses and allowing light to pass through. Do not buy yellow-tint glasses; these glasses cause objects and hazards to be more difficult to see at night.
If you are following the rules of the road, driving with care and have the proper licence to drive at night, police will not pull you over. If you are breaking any laws or driving recklessly, you can be pulled over and fined accordingly.
Its always a good idea to wait to drive if you’ve had a drink. It takes the average person about one hour to process one alcoholic beverage. So, if you had one drink, wait an hour. If you’ve had two, wait two hours. Any more than this, you should not drive, just to be safe.
In Ontario, you need at least a G2 licence at night on any roadway or highway.
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