While we do only one quarter of our driving in the dark, 49 percent of traffic deaths happen at night. This is because driving at night is generally more dangerous than driving in the day.
Why is Driving in the Dark Dangerous?
According to National Safety Council research, traffic deaths are three times greater at night. The following factors make driving in the dark more dangerous:
- Lack of light
- Compromised night vision
- Rush hour
- Impaired drivers
Today, we discuss these factors and offer tips on how you can drive safer in the dark.
Factors That Affect Your Ability to Drive in the Dark
- Lack of light: When it is dark outside, depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision are compromised. Therefore, the glare of headlights from an oncoming vehicle can blind a driver temporarily.
- Compromised night vision: Night vision refers to the ability to see well in low-light conditions. As you get older, you may have greater difficulty seeing in the dark. According to the American Optometric Association, at age 60 and older, driving can become even more difficult. Some older drivers also may have compromised vision due to cataracts and degenerative eye diseases.
- Rush hour: During the winter season, it may become dark where you live during rush hour. Evening rush hour (between 4 and 7 p.m. weekdays) can be a dangerous time to drive due to crowded roadways and drivers rushing to get home after work.
- Impaired drivers: Many impaired drivers are on the road after dark, particularly between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. on weekends. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30 people die every day in crashes that involve a driver impaired by alcohol.
- Falling asleep at the wheel: Driving in the dark when you are tired can also be dangerous. There are many reasons for falling asleep at the wheel such as shift work, long work hours, lack of quality sleep, and sleep disorders.
Ways You Can Make it Easier to Drive in the Dark
There are a few ways you can make it easier to drive in the dark such as:
- Aim your headlights correctly.
- Dim your dashboard.
- Look away from oncoming lights.
- If you wear glasses, make sure your prescription is current and the lenses are anti-reflective.
- Have annual eye exams.
- Clean the windshield to eliminate streaks.
- Slow down.
- Minimize distractions at night, like talking with passengers, or listening to the radio.
- Don’t text and drive.
- Check with your doctor about side effects of prescription drugs.
- Stay alert even if your route home is a familiar one. If it’s a new route, make sure your home address is already set in your GPS.
- Keep alert for other drowsy drivers on the road.
- Get a good night’s sleep to avoid fatigue.
- Take regular breaks if you begin to feel tired.
- Pull over and take a nap if you’re drowsy.
- Car pool with a colleague or family member.
While you can’t control everyone else on the road, it’s important to always remember, driving in the dark is definitely a bad idea if you can’t see well, are tired, or feel impaired at all.
Following the simple safety tips for all the factors that make it difficult for driving in the dark can help you reach your destination safely.