Driving at night while the stars navigate your route can be such an exhilarating experience. Especially if you can roll the windows down and enjoy the cool evening breeze. Night-driving is actually the preference of many road-travelers due to the significant decrease in traffic.
However, driving during the night can also be more dangerous. It’s important to stay alert at all times. This definitely goes without saying. You should ALWAYS be alert when operating a vehicle. But driving at night brings with it new challenges.
There are many different things to be aware of. Let’s take a look at five tips for how to drive safely once the sun has retired for the evening.
Maximize Your Line of Sight
In order to drive safely, you need to be able to see properly. Make sure your headlights are clear and clean them thoroughly. Cleaning the outside AND inside of your headlights will ensure maximum visibility, especially when you need to use your high beams.
It’s also very important that you take care of any cracks in your windshield. Cracks can prohibit your line of sight while driving. Even a small nick can be a distraction. Cleaning the outside and inside of your windshield to free it of any smudges or dirt is also vital.
Reduce Your Speed
It’s a really good idea to make sure your vehicle’s speed is at least 5 mph less than the posted speed limit. This is especially significant when traveling along those back country roads.
Since your headlights only allow you to see a certain distance ahead of you, it’s hard to anticipate and react to sharp turns or sudden stops. Giving yourself more time to react to unexpected events while driving will increase your chances of remaining safe.
Watch for Wildlife and Road Hazards
No one can anticipate the actions or reactions of others, especially animals. Squirrels, rabbits, cats, and deer, have a habit of leaping onto the road with no concern of anything else around them. Wildlife is hard enough to avoid during the day, so looking out for animals at night is even more important.
Although it’s a priority to keep your eyes on the road in front of you, it’s equally as important to make sure you pay attention to those things along the side of the road. Animals aren’t the only culprit behind car accidents at night. Fallen tree branches, trash bins, protruding mailboxes, and cars parked along the side of the street are just as dangerous. Keeping your head on a swivel is a necessity.
Increase Following Distance
Since your reaction time is slower due to less visibility at night, it’s important to increase the distance between you and any car in front of you. You never know if another driver’s vehicle hasn’t been maintained properly. Maybe the car has a faulty turn signal or a busted brake/tail light.
Following further behind gives you more reaction time to avoid a potential crash. It also ensures that your headlights don’t reflect too severely off any other vehicle’s rearview mirror.
Don’t Drive Fatigued
Driving while not getting proper sleep is never a good thing. This is true whether you are driving at night or during the day. But humans are creatures of habit. We work and play when the sun is up and we sleep when it sets. Your body will naturally want to shut down during the evening.
Please be cognizant of this before and during your nightly travels. If you plan on driving at night, get plenty of rest and do not take any chances. If you start feeling just a little fatigued, pull over to a safe area and take a nap.
Your destination can wait.
Be Smart, Restart
Don’t ever be afraid to “call it a day” if you are feeling too tired or not alert enough to continue your nighttime driving. It’s a smart idea to get a little rest and restart your journey the next day. Driving at night is pretty cool, but staying safe on the road is slightly cooler.