Nearly 50% of traffic deaths occur at night. With less light, it can become more difficult to see road signs and spot and react to potential hazards.
As the holidays approach and after months of restrictive social distancing, nighttime traffic is sure to increase as people attend dinner parties and frequent restaurants and bars. As you relax into the festivities, one thing you shouldn’t relax is driver safety, especially at night when the roads are most dangerous.
While taking a defensive driving class from Aceable is probably our number one tip for staying safe on the road, here are five more tips for safe driving at night. And remember, COVID-19 is still around, so if you are going to be out and about, try to socialize as safely as possible.
The Best Tips for Driving in the Dark
1. Be Aware of the Impact of COVID on Holiday Traffic
As we head into the 2020 holiday season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we are likely to see higher than normal levels of traffic between November and January. Aceable’s COVID-19 survey found that 74% of Americans will travel by car to their next vacation rather than by plane due to concerns over COVID-19.
With more cars on the road, both during the day and at night, the probability of an increase in car crashes is high. If you are planning a long-distance trip, do most of your driving during the day and get some shut-eye at night.
2. Drink Responsibly Over the Holiday Period
Sadly, drunk driving continues to be a scourge on American roads. Over the holidays, binge drinking tends to increase as people dine out, go to parties, visit bars, and attend events at night.
Alcohol Monitoring Systems monitored over 450,000 DUI offenders and found that drinking rates increased by 33% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Alcohol consumption is so synonymous with the holidays, that even though these offenders knew they were being monitored, they still did not curb their drinking.
If you do plan a night of drinking, choose a designated driver in your group or use an alternative method of transport, like a ridesharing service or public transport.
And even if you're not drinking, be on the lookout for those who are. Use the information you learn in our defensive driving course to keep you and your passengers safe.
3. Where Possible, Avoid Driving at Night
There’s no way to avoid driving at night altogether. If you do go out at night, try to avoid driving during the most dangerous hours. Car accident statistics show that more fatal car crashes occur on Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and from midnight to 3 a.m. If you are driving during those hours, be extra vigilant and don’t speed. Accidents at higher speeds result in more fatalities.
4. Get Home Earlier During Winter
It’s that time of the year again — daylight saving time has just heralded the start of winter. The clocks jump back to add an extra hour of daylight to our day. However, because winter is on its way, darkness will still descend early. If you don’t do your best driving in the dark, you may want to make sure you reach home earlier whenever possible.
5. Have Your Eyes Tested
As we become older, our eyesight deteriorates. Thirty-year-old eyes simply see better in the dark than sixty-year-old eyes. That’s because as we age, less light reaches our retinas, and driving in the dark becomes more difficult.
If you are struggling to see at night, have your eyes tested. Older people may suffer from eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. Some drivers suffer from night blindness, a condition that either heighten the glare from street lights and headlights or causes a halo effect.
If you suffer from an eye-related condition that affects your night vision, it’s best to avoid driving at night as much as possible. If you do drive at night, make sure your windshield and mirrors are clean and don’t stare directly into oncoming headlights.
Drive Safer at Night With Defensive Driving
If driving at night makes you nervous, we recommend taking a defensive driving course that will sharpen your skills and make you a more confident driver. Older persons can also take a mature driving course that addresses many of the challenges senior drivers face.