Driving at night can be more dangerous than driving during the daytime. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, traffic death rates are three times greater at night than during the day.
A driver’s vision is more limited during darkness and can have an impact on a driver’s depth perception and peripheral vision. The glare from headlights of oncoming traffic or from the rearview mirror and limited headlight illumination can also have a significant impact. Driver fatigue can also affect a driver’s reaction time, awareness and judgment.
Below are some defensive driving techniques that can help to improve your ability to drive in the dark.
Keep windows and headlights clean and use them appropriately
Turn on your headlights one hour before sunset and use them for at least one hour after sunrise. This will make it easier for other drivers to see you in early twilight. Be sure to clean the inside and outside of your windshield and windows, as well as your headlights/taillights.
If an oncoming vehicle has their high beams on and is impairing your vision, avoid glare by watching the right edge of the road and using it as a steering guide. Proper mirror positioning will also help to reduce glare from the vehicles behind you.
Scan the roadway. Look for flashes of light at hilltops, curves and intersections that may indicate the headlights of other vehicles.
Increase your following distance and reduce speed
Maintain a speed that is appropriate for the reduced visibility of night driving. You should be able to stop inside the illuminated area from your headlights.
Take rest breaks every few hours on long trips. Be sure to get a full 7 to 9 hours of sleep before driving at night. Stop and get rest if you are too tired to drive. Ensure that there is proper ventilation inside the vehicle and keep the temperature cool, but comfortable.