Many drivers underestimate the danger of driving at night. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns that fatal accidents triple when it’s dark outside.
Ideally, you’d never have to drive at night. But that’s not realistic. Instead, make sure you follow these tips to minimize your risk.
Maintain Your Lights
Did you know that headlights are adjustable? You can “aim” them to hit the road in just the right spot. This is a possible DIY project, but you can also have it done professionally if you aren’t confident.
If the covers on your headlights are looking foggy, then they need to be polished. That haze isn’t just unattractive; it can actually make the lights dimmer.
At least once a week, crank your car and then walk around it to ensure that all your lights are working. It’s better to catch those problems during the day, when you can go get a broken light replaced.
Clean the Windows
Night often reveals streaks, smudges, or haze on the inside of your windows. The best way to get rid of it is by rubbing with newspaper. The second-best choice is a microfiber cloth.
Keep a cloth (or newspaper) in your console or other easy-access place so that you can clean your windshield and the driver’s side window on the go.
Stay Alert–And Stop If You’re Too Tired
The biggest hazard on the road isn’t a smeared window or a broken headlight. It’s the people driving the cars. Be aware that drunk drivers are four times more likely to be on the road after dark.
Driving while fatigued is also a serious problem. If you have to drive between midnight and dawn, do so with extreme caution. The human body simply isn’t built to function late at night, and you run a real risk of falling asleep at the wheel. If you don’t feel safe, pull over and take a quick nap.
Know When to Use High Beams
Headlight etiquette while driving at night is important. You should keep your high beams on as often as possible to increase your field of vision. However, the exceptions to that rule are whenever you are following another car or when oncoming traffic is within 500 feet.
Some new cars have adaptive lighting that automatically adjusts headlight intensity when other cars are nearby.
Keep Your Eyes Moving
When another car is approaching in the opposite lane, look down and to the right. Otherwise, you risk temporarily blinding yourself. You should also let your gaze rove instead of staring at a fixed point. You’re more likely to spot hazards, such as a deer, and won’t cause as much strain to your eyes.