If you’ve ever left a party or event early to avoid driving at night, you’re not alone. Many people, and especially older drivers, find that driving at night is particularly challenging. High beams from oncoming drivers, hard-to-see curves in the road up ahead, and the fear of a pedestrian or deer coming out of the darkness are all reasons to feel anxious about night driving.
Unfortunately, your human eyesight isn’t much of a help either. Human vision at night is skewed by an inability to distinguish colors, problems with depth perception, and limited focus — especially where bright lights are concerned.
To help you avoid dangerous hazards, we’d like to give you some tips that can be useful the next time you’re night driving.
Clean and Adjust Headlights and Mirrors
Dirty headlights and/or mirrors can distort lights and make it even harder to see at night.
If you know you’ll be driving at night soon, take the time to clean your headlights beforehand. In some cases, you may even want to have your headlights replaced. Cloudy headlights can hamper night vision by a large degree.
As for mirrors, make sure exterior side mirrors are adjusted so that oncoming lights from behind won’t blind you. If headlights from the rear become a problem in your rearview mirror, simply adjust the bottom tab of the mirror, which will flip the mirror angle. Light from the headlights behind you will then bounce against the silvered surface of the mirror instead of beaming directly into your sightline.
Allow More Time for Your Journey
Have you ever felt the urge to slow down when driving at night? This is a sensible action. Slowing down allows you a greater stop time in the event that you need to put on the brakes because of an obstacle in your path. In addition to slowing down overall, leave extra space between you and the car in front of you.
It’s okay to use the headlights from cars coming your way or the taillights from cars in front of you to guide your way along the road. However, remember that they may not exactly know where they’re going either. Keep a lookout for patterns in large numbers of cars ahead. they can show you where curves are. At the same time, slow down and use your best judgment if you see a vehicle ahead behaving erratically.
Keep Windows Clean
In addition to keeping your headlights and mirrors clean as we mentioned above, also make sure that your windows are clean. If it is raining or snowing, keep your windshield wipers on at a steady rate. Of course, you should also always make sure that your windshield wipers are clean and functioning properly.
At a gas station or at home, you should also take the time to wash your windows. Going to the car wash can certainly help, but sometimes you’ll need to scrub harder to remove dead bugs and other grime.
Finally, if you’re driving at night in the winter, make sure that you always carry a snow brush/ice remover in your car. All ice and snow should be removed from your vehicle and windows before driving. Any snow on the front of your vehicle may fly up and obscure your vision while you’re driving, so it’s best to remove as much as you can before you get on the road. Your windshield and rear window defrosters can help tremendously as well.
Driving at night certainly presents unique challenges. But the good news is if you plan ahead, you can avoid most dangers and risks, making the roadways safer for all drivers.