Driving at night can be risky–up to three times as risky as driving during the day, according to the National Safety Council. When fatigue, low visibility, and a higher concentration of impaired drivers all come together on the roads, the results can be catastrophic–especially if you have impaired night vision, like thousands of other adults. Stay safe out there by checking off these top tips for driving when it’s dark outside.
- Check Your Vision. If you haven’t had an eye exam in the last year or two, or if you feel like your vision has changed significantly since your last exam, make an appointment now! Having the right glasses or contacts can make all the difference in your ability to see hazards before you hit them. If you wear glasses, invest in the anti-reflective coating to cut down on the glare you’ll see when driving in low light.
- Check Your Headlights. Many older cars have headlights that don’t illuminate the road that well. Others have headlights that aren’t aimed correctly to light up the most important parts of the road. Make sure your headlight lenses are clear, not dulled by age. Replace them if necessary, and make sure that they’re aimed correctly: down and toward the right side of the road so you’ll get the best possible visibility without blinding other drivers.
- Watch for Eyes. Keeping your eyes moving across the road will help keep you alert and aware of hazards ahead–and the reflection of an animal’s retinas are something to be on the lookout for. When the light from your headlights bounces off an animal’s retinas, they light up–giving you two pinpricks of light to warn you that there might be a small (or not-so-small) creature on the road. It’s not unusual to see deer on the roads around the Lake Geneva area, and as you know, they can wreak havoc on your car if you hit them. If you see pinpoints of light, slow down as quickly as you safely can–without veering out of your lane.
- Clean Your Windshield. Updating your windshield wipers is a biggie; so is polishing the inside of your windshield with a microfiber cloth or newspaper to remove residue and streaks that disappear until you’re driving in the dark. By making sure that your windshield is clean and streak-free, you’ll upgrade your nighttime driving experience significantly–and dramatically improve your visibility.
- Fight Fatigue. If you’ve been awake for more than 16 hours or just have that feeling of not being able to keep your eyes open, don’t risk getting behind the wheel. Take a nap before you hit the road or call a friend (or a taxi) for a ride. Making sure you get plenty of rest at night and eating a balanced, energizing meal before driving can help make sure your body has the energy it needs to focus on the road.
- Don’t Drive Distracted. This is an issue no matter the time of day, but it’s particularly vital at night when visibility is down and your reaction times have to be faster. Don’t glance at your phone, eat, put on chapstick. Don’t do anything except driving when you’re behind the wheel. Feel free to turn up the music or listen to a gripping audiobook if you have some mental stimulation for the drive.
- Dim Your In-Car Lights. There’s a reason dashboard lights are dimmable. If they’re too bright, they can be distracting, cause glare, and prevent you from focusing on things you need to see outside the car. Make a habit of dimming them so they’re easy to see at a glance but not glaringly bright.