The automotive industry has toiled away since its inception to not only make transport easier but safer. Today we drive safe cars on safe roads with tons of specialized safety equipment contained in our vehicles. Despite this encouraging fact, over 30,000 auto accidents still result in fatalities every year for the last 12 years according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The top three states for deadly car crashes are California, Texas and Florida, all major tourist destinations full of out-of-state drivers and clocking in around 2,500 fatalities annually per state according to one Miami accident lawyer. The time when most of these accidents occur? Nighttime, when visibility is low and the roads can be even more perilous. However, there’s no need to nix your nighttime driving altogether. Taking a few minor precautions is all you need to make the road you’re on and everyone in your car safer when driving after sundown.
Top 4 Nighttime Driving Tips
1. Retrain Your Focus – It’s recommended by the NHTSA that you reduce your speed to about five miles per hour below the posted speed limit, 10 miles per hour if there’s fog or rain, and focus your eyes approximately five second ahead of your current position at all times. This will help combat the limited reaction time you have in the event of animals or wayward vehicles in your path. Nighttime driving can also get visually tiresome and cause tunnel vision or “highway hypnosis”, leading to the potential for dosing off behind the wheel; keep your focal point in motion by alternating your focus from one side of the road to the other and back.
2. Stay Alert – If you feel sleepy or just not fully alert, use common sense and don’t get behind the wheel at any time, especially nighttime. If you’re already on the road and start to get drowsy, find a safe rest stop to pull over and get out, stretch or take a quick nap before driving on. Don’t rely on coffee, energy drinks, loud music or letting cold air in the windows to keep you awake behind the wheel.
3. Curb the Lights – Streetlights can cause distracting glare sometimes, so dim your dashboard lights and try not to use any other lights inside the car to help balance it. Also, flashing your lights at people who’ve left their high beams on can cause more problems than it fixes by distracting the other driver. Shift your eyes to the right side of the road instead and wait till they pass. If someone has their high beams on in your rearview mirror, just pull over and let them pass in front of you.
4. See and Be Seen – Having clean windows and mirrors allows you to cut down glare from other lights as well as focus better on what’s around you. Having clean, working exterior lights allows your car to be visible to other motorists. The last thing you want is to get into an accident because another car couldn’t see you or because you couldn’t see them through a grimy windscreen.
When the sun goes down, so does our vision, depth and color perception, reaction time and peripheral vision. It’s a time when most people are tired and accidents are more likely to happen. By taking the above safety measures you can help protect yourself, your passengers and other drivers around you from becoming another fatal statistic.
Anthony Joseph is a freelance writer and researcher, and a contributing author for a Miami accident lawyer website. Being injured in an accident can be one of the worst things you can ever go through, especially when it’s out of your control and caused by another. The way you can fight back is to make sure you have the right legal counsel to defend your case!