You already know that driving at night is often more dangerous due to darkness, drunk drivers, tired drivers, and animals that like to run out into the road at night like deer. But that doesn’t mean that you have to accept that you’re a little less safe if you drive at night. By planning ahead, you can reduce your risks.
Clean Your Car
People might be less likely to notice a dirty car when it’s dark out, but a clean car isn’t just about looks. It also affects your safety.
Dirty windows and mirrors can reflect light and cause a glare that blinds you or blocks your vision. Even dust or dirt that can’t be seen during the day can be enough to cause serious vision problems.
Dirty headlight covers are also a concern. If dirt collects on either the outside or the inside (by slipping in through cracks), it can reduce the range of your lights, so be sure to clean them regularly.
Avoid Bad Weather
Rain, snow, and fog all create their own hazards with reduced visibility and slippery roads, but the problems get even worse at night. During fog and heavy rain, your headlights will reflect back on you reducing your visibility range even more instead of extending it.
With reduced visibility, it’s even harder to notice ice or standing water on the road. It’s also harder to take corrective action in time to avoid a hazard. In addition, if you’re involved in an accident and can’t call for help, you don’t want to be off the road in the dark where no one can see you.
Check the weather before you go, and try to pick a different time to travel if you can. If you must drive, leave extra early to give yourself time to drive slowly and cautiously without worry about being late.
Plan Your Route
During the day, you may choose your route based on time, distance, scenery, or less traffic. At night, your main goal should be avoiding hazards. This includes both avoiding wooded roads known for deer and urban roads known for bar hoppers driving drunk.
Choosing a well-lit road can help you avoid nighttime visibility problems and make it safer to handle situations like a flat tire. Picking well-trafficked roads over isolated roads can increase your chances of getting help from another driver if you need it.
For longer trips, also think about where you can get a hotel for the night as well as safe places to get food and gas. If you drive until you’re tired, you could face even more travel time until you find a good place to rest.
Plan Your Departure Time
Finally, there are a lot of times when you can plain avoid driving at night. For example, if you went away for a weekend, time your return trip so you get back by dusk. If you’re heading out on a road trip, wake up early and get on the road in time to avoid running out of daylight.
With a little planning, you can reduce your need to drive at night and can make those times when you do need to drive at night much safer. Keep following these tips and general defensive driving techniques to help protect you and your family.