How to Mitigate the Four Inherent Dangers to Driving at Night
Many say getting behind the wheel of a car is one of the most dangerous things a person can do; yet, once the sun sets, this dangerous activity gets increasingly more dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nationwide, 49 percent of fatal crashes occur at night. Since the number of drivers at night is significantly smaller than during the day, the fatality rate for night drivers is three times higher than that of daytime drivers.
From being blinded by oncoming cars’ bright headlights to nocturnal creatures appearing out of nowhere in the middle of the road, driving after sundown presents a unique set of dangers. The experienced attorneys at Boone & Davis understand that car accident lawsuits can be a stressful process, especially if you or someone you love has been injured. Your safety is a priority to us, and the best way to stay safe and avoid potential accidents when driving at night is to understand the challenges drivers face after dark and how to handle such challenges. Below is a list of four inherent challenges to driving at night and how to mitigate such challenges; keep these in mind the next time you head out on the road after the sun goes down.
We all know darkness makes seeing very difficult. Darkness affects depth perception, the ability to distinguish color, and peripheral vision. Even with the use of headlights, a driver’s field of vision is drastically smaller. High beams can reach up to 500 feet in front of your car, while headlights extend up to 250 feet. If you are driving at approximately sixty (60) mph, your car will need more than 200 feet to stop.
How to Handle It – Before you get behind the wheel after dark, give your eyes some time to adjust to the darkness. When you do begin driving, decrease your driving speed to give yourself more time to react to objects that appear in your headlights.
When driving through highly forested areas, increase your alertness for animals looking to cross the street. Watch for the reflection of your headlights in animal eyes, as the darkness will camouflage their bodies.
With your eyes being adjusted to the darkness, bright lights – from neon road signs to the lights of oncoming cars – appear that much brighter. Looking directly into these lights or glare caused by these lights coming through your windshield can blind drivers for at least a couple seconds.
How to Handle It – Make sure you clean the windows, mirrors, and windshield regularly on your car. Any streaks can scatter light, making it hard to see objects in the road. Also, avoid staring directly into any oncoming lights and turn your rear view mirror up to deflect the glare from vehicles behind you.
Driving at night or during a period of time that you are normally sleeping increases the risk fatigue. Humans are programmed to sleep during nighttime hours. Therefore, even if you have had a good night’s sleep the night before, driving at night inherently increases the probability of fatigue while driving. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, driver fatigue may be a contributory factor in up to 20 percent of road accidents, and up to one quarter of fatal and serious accidents.
How to Handle It – Make sure you have slept well before you hit the road and, if you’re driving long distances at night, consider bringing a friend along – two sets of eyes are always better than one. Finally, before fatigue sets in, pull over and find a hotel room nearby.
Drunk Drivers on the Road
The number of drunk drivers on the road increases at night – especially around the time bars and taverns close.
How to Handle It – When driving at night be on high alert of other vehicles drifting across the center line or acting strange. Increase your following distance from any vehicles that seem to be behaving out of the ordinary.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident, whether at night or during the day, contact Boone & Davis for a free consultation with one of our experienced Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys. We are happy to help in any way we can.