Seven Tips For Safe Night Driving
Many teens groan at the thought of a curfew. However, aside from parental control, there are excellent reasons not to let a teen (or anyone, for that matter) drive during the nighttime when they don’t need to. Nighttime driving is statistically far riskier than other types of driving, regardless of your age. During the winter, Kansas and Oklahoma often get less than ten hours of daytime driving, which is barely enough to get safely to and from work.
Nighttime driving has to happen from time to time. There are ways to make sure that when you drive, you never feel as though you’re going to put your life at risk.
Here are Zeck Auto’s top seven tips for safe night driving.
1) Make sure that all the lights in your car are dimmed.
Lights are distracting to the human eye and can make us more prone to accidents, veering off the side of the road, or, even worse, toward an oncoming car. There is not much we can do to prevent outside light from distracting us. However, we need to be proactive about keeping our car interiors dim during the evening.
Newer cars’ electrical systems will often automatically dim the interior lights for you. However, if your vehicle is older, it will have a switch or dial that should allow you to dim the interior lights yourself. If you are driving with children or other people, call a no screen time rule and make sure that DVD players, iPads, and laptops are shut down while you are driving. The darker it is in your car, the better you will be able to see out the window into the evening.
2) Pay attention to all parts of the road – including the side.
When driving at night, it is best to keep your eyes moving and refrain from staring straight ahead for too long. This is not only to prevent you from getting drowsy or from being blinded when a car rounds the corner but also to ensure you catch the many different potential hazards that come from nighttime driving.
Specifically, scan the sides of the road for the glare from animals’ retinas. Crepuscular animals, like deer, have a much higher chance of being out and about during work commute times because they prefer dawn and dusk to purely dark hours. Although they can be hard to see, most animals will look at your headlights before crossing the road, showing you little flashes of green. If you see eyes on the side of the road, slow down in case an animal makes a last-minute decision to jump in front of your car.
3) Make sure your lights and exterior mirrors are clean.
You might be able to see in your exterior mirrors during the day, but it is much harder to see through the grime at night when light is less abundant. Before entering your car for a night drive, do an exterior inspection of the vehicle, bringing a paper towel and glass cleaning fluid with you. Wipe any dirt or mud off your headlights, brake lights, blinkers, and your exterior mirrors before you drive away. It would be best if you also considered cleaning your rear windshield, so you have a better view out of your rearview light.
4) Be sure your headlights and brake lights are working.
Once you’ve done your exterior inspection of the mirrors and lights, turn your car on, including your headlights. Check to see that both your headlights are working. Then, check your brake lights – having someone help you if needed. If anything is broken, reconsider whether you need to drive at night. Additionally, schedule an appointment at a trusted mechanic, like our Ford dealership, to fix these issues as soon as possible.
5) Don’t drive if you are tired.
Even the best of us get tired while driving once and a while, but the struggle is real when you’ve just had a long day’s work, and it physically looks like bedtime outside. If you find you’re struggling to keep your eyes open, don’t drive home. Take a quick nap (20-30 minutes should do the trick) or take an uber home. Don’t rely on caffeine or loud music to keep you awake, and when you do get home, be sure to rest up so you aren’t as tired the following day.
6) Get your vision checked toward the end of the year when the days get shorter.
Everyone should get their vision checked at least once a year, even if they don’t have pre-existing vision issues. However, if you’re someone who does have pre-existing eye conditions, you might benefit from getting your vision checked in the late fall. The summer sun has as much influence on your eyes as it does your skin, and before the nights get longer, you’ll want to ensure the sun hasn’t damaged your eyes so severely that your vision has changed. Get new prescriptions when there is still light out, but after the summer sun has done its damage – that way, you can have some time to adjust to your new prescription.
7) Don’t drive on two-lane roads if you can help it.
Maybe you read all the above and thought to yourself, well, I’m a good driver. I already do all that.
That might be the case, but you can never count on other drivers to be as good as you. Keeping this in mind, research has shown that driving on two-lane highways is one of the most influential reasons behind an increase in car accidents. The glare of other drivers’ headlights, the lack of visibility, and other factors are a recipe for disaster. So, if you’re thinking about taking the highway home during rush hour because “it’s quicker”, opt for the shorter, more rural route instead. You’ll likely find that it’s safer and quicker to boot.
Are you looking for a car with better night driving capabilities? Zeck Auto has options for you. Visit one of our many locations in the Purcell, Norman, Moore, and Oklahoma City region.