Driving at night is difficult and more than a little nerve-wracking. About half of all U.S. car crashes occur between 8 PM and 4 AM. Moreover, these crashes are about 4x more fatal than those that occur during the day. Because driving in the dark tends to be more dangerous, it’s important that all drivers know best practices and essential safety tips for driving at night.
When driving at night, you should travel 5-10 MPH below the speed limit. When you drive in the dark, it can be difficult to identify and react to oncoming hazards. The more you adjust your speed, the more time you have to spot a potential threat and then avoid it.
Be especially cautious when traveling through rural areas or those with a lot of wildlife. Going slow will help you identify reflective eyes on the side of the road. Be especially cautious when driving around dusk and dawn. Fall is deer season and there are more than 16,000 deer-related crashes in Georgia each year.
Know Your Limits
Just as important as slowing down is knowing the limitations of your headlights. Headlights have a hard limit of illumination, after which point they provide no additional benefit. It’s like a curtain; you can only see what’s in your range.
The problem is that the average car headlights illuminate a maximum range of 200ft, but a car moving as slow as 45 MPH will travel that distance every 3 seconds. If, for example, you see a cyclist in the road, you’d have less than 2 seconds to not only recognize they were there but to either hit the brakes or swerve out of the way. Even then, cars need about 100ft of braking distance for every 10 MPH increment.
Fatigue is a major contributing factor of nighttime car crashes. Exhausted drivers falsely believe they are safe to drive and push on, endangering themselves and everyone else on the road. This is extremely dangerous.
According to the CDC, driving after being awake for 18 hours is the equivalent of driving with a 0.05% BAC. Fatigue isn’t just being physically tired; it, affects your decision-making and makes it harder to control the vehicle.
If you find yourself fighting to stay awake at the wheel, it’s time to pull over. Stretch your legs, use the restroom, have something to eat, but do not continue driving. Even then, these are all quick fixes, and their effect will soon wear off. If you are simply too tired to continue, it’s often wise to pull over and sleep rather than risk endangering yourself and others.
Beware of Brights
As it gets darker, your eyes dilate and adjust to the lack of light. This is why it’s difficult to see if you go into a dark room, but it’s a little easier to navigate a dark building at night. The problem is that our eyes are not meant to respond to sudden flashes of bright like, such as from a cellphone or an approaching car with its high beams on.
These instances of bright light can cause your eye to contract, making it harder to see in the dark and potentially making you feel more tired as well. To prevent this, you should take steps to avoid bright light sources.
Remember to set your phone’s brightness to a minimum while driving at night and put it in “Do Not Disturb” mode so bright flashes won’t distract you. Likewise, never look at another car’s headlights. If you see another car approaching on a narrow street, look to the sides of the road. Recognizing these dangers and acting appropriately could prevent a potential crash.
If you or someone you love suffered severe injuries in a car crash, you might have a case. If you’d like an experienced Riverdale car accident attorney from Law Offices of Falanga & Chalker to evaluate your case, please don’t hesitate to send us an email or call (470) 450-1164.