Night driving is a complicated task affected by a host of factors and conducted under constantly changing environmental conditions. Besides engineering factors like the maintenance and construction of vehicles and roads, a large number of road accidents are caused by human perceptual errors.
According to World Health Organization, road traffic accidents account for over 1.2 million deaths and a large number of serious injuries across the globe each year.
A good number of these deaths and fatal injuries occur at night suggesting that low luminance, experienced at night, plays a crucial role in this effect.
Drivers take a long time to react and process information while driving at night than during the day, which explains the high number of road carnages that happen at night.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about night driving safety tips to avoid being a road accident statistic that others learn from. Learn about how to increase visibility and stay safe when driving at night with night driving glasses.
Night Driving Safety Tips
Most of the accidents that happen at night can be averted, by simply following traffic laws and being alert at all times. Below are some night driving safety tips that you should adhere to, to avoid causing accidents.
1. Use the Headlights
Using headlights might seem an obvious driving tip but many drivers do not turn on their headlights while driving thus causing road accidents.
You should develop a habit of using your headlights more often than not, especially before dusk and when there is low luminance due to bad weather conditions like thunderstorms. Turning on your headlights will not only enable you to be visible to other road drivers but also make it easy to see the sun as it sets.
Also, keep your headlights clean, properly lit, and aligned in the perfect direction to improve its visibility. Avoid driving around for a long time with only one headlamp as it ruins your visibility, puts you at the risk of being apprehended by traffic police and increases your chances of causing accidents.
It’s advisable to once in a while carry out headlamp inspection and repair, as headlights are your closest and best friends when it comes to night driving.
2. Keep a Safe Distance
It is a clever idea to keep a safe distance especially while driving at night and when the weather conditions are bad in order to improve your visibility. Driving too closely especially at night makes other road drivers nervous and affects their decision making which often leads to road accidents.
Also, following too closely while your headlights are on makes them more distracting and seem brighter than they actually are, thus, affecting your visibility and that of the driver ahead.
Driving at a safe distance from the car ahead of you at night enables you to maintain a slow speed, which is convenient during night driving. This will in turn give you ample time to react in case of any emergency, thus averting road collisions or accidents.
Bearing in mind that at night drivers have a slow reaction time than during the day, driving at a safe distance will help you to avoid hitting the back bumper of the car ahead of you in case of an emergency.
3. Be Alert
The most effective way of averting accidents at night is by watching for movements or lights and regularly checking your car’s mirrors. You should check out other car’s headlights, cars that aren’t using headlights, children playing beside the road, and animals or debris on the roadside. Moving your eyes and being alert will enable you to become aware of your surroundings and thus up your defensive driving skills.
Night driving consists of watching out for other driver’s mistakes but still being alert to your driving skills. Also, ensure that all your car’s mirrors are not only clean but properly aligned in the perfect direction and position, to give you a clear view of your surroundings.
4. Stay Awake
Although many drivers prefer driving at night when it is cooler and less crowded, it tends to be more dangerous. Human bodies are accustomed to sleeping at night, thus, driving instead of sleeping can be a toll order to your body.
That’s why you should plan accordingly ahead of time if you plan to drive at night, to avoid falling asleep while driving and consequently cause an accident.
Consider starting your night driving journey after five o’clock when there is light, as it enables your body, eyes, and mind to adjust. Also, prior to driving at night, ensure that you have a good sleep during the day, in order to kill the possibility of becoming drowsy while driving.
However, in case you feel seriously drowsy during the journey, consider finding a resting area or a hotel to sleep and rest in before continuing with your journey.
5. Never Stare at Oncoming Headlights
Have you ever been outdoors during a sunny day, then entered a dark room and felt blind? Human eyes adjust slowly to the amount of light, which explains the feeling of going blind after entering the darkroom.
The same science applies when you stare at oncoming headlights while driving at night, that’s why you should keep your attention to the left-hand curb and keep your car speed steady.
Once you stare at oncoming headlights, your pupils dilate in order to adjust to the large amount of light that they emit. Once the oncoming vehicle passes, your eyes will have a hard time adjusting immediately to the existing low luminance of the night, thus giving you the feeling of going blind. At that very moment, the likelihood of causing an accident is very high, as your visibility is negatively affected.
6. Do Your Homework
Although driving at night is tricky, the escapade becomes more complex when you are driving on a road that you have never driven before. You should consider doing your homework in advance if you intend to drive on a new road at night, to avoid surprises.
Consider researching whether the road has the likelihood of roaming animals, the locations where there are tight bends, and the potential hazards to expect.
On the actual day of driving, consider looking for any glimmers of lights on top of the hills or at bends, to act as a pre-warning of oncoming vehicles. In case there are vehicles ahead heading in your direction, concentrate on their turns and movements to warn you of potential hazards and tricky bends. Also, you could use the red and white plastic markers on the road as your guide.
7. Regularly go For eye Check-up
In case you are a regular driver, your eyes are your greatest asset that determines your safety. That’s the reason why you should ensure that your eyes are checked regularly to ensure that they are in perfect condition.
Eyes wear and tear with age and other health complications, thus, consider visiting your optician once in a while, to get the necessary advice and receive treatment from a qualified physician.
Your optician will note any eye ailment you might be suffering from and recommend the best treatment to improve your vision. You could also consider wearing red-tinted glasses to improve your eye focus in an environment with low light.
Gently massage your eyes for about 5 to 10 seconds before driving at night will also help you to have better visibility at night.
8. Eat Healthy Foods
The majority of poor night vision problems that affect night driving are caused by dietary deficiencies. Eating healthy foods will not only improve your night vision but also improve your general health and help you lead a comfortable life. Here are the healthy foods that you should eat to improve your safety while driving at night.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A is responsible for improving night vision. Some foods that are rich in vitamin A include carrots, tomatoes, dairy products, potatoes, broccoli, and green vegetables.
- Yellow and green vegetables: Yellow and green vegetables are rich in zeaxanthin, a carotenoid antioxidant, and lutein which destroys free radicals of the body. This in turn improves your night vision, thus, enabling you to drive safely at night.
- Fish: Most types of fish are rich in vitamin A, omega 3-fatty acids, zinc, and DHA, all of which help in improving night vision. Some types of fish that are rich in these nutrients include sardines, codfish, salmon, and herring.
- Anthocyanin-rich foods: Foods that are rich in anthocyanin such as bilberries improves the purple pigment level in the eyes. This in turn enables them to improve night vision as well as fight night blindness.
- Lecithin, cysteine, and sulfur-rich foods: Foods that are rich in lecithin, cysteine, and sulfur prevents the formation of cataract in the eyes, which is the main cause of night blindness.
9. Clean your Windshield
A foggy, streaky, and dirty windshield can reduce your visibility and cause glare while driving at night. That’s the reason why you should clean both the interior and exterior of your car’s windshield occasionally before driving at night.
In addition, consider cleaning headlight coverings or lenses from snow, ice, or dirt and replace the windshield altogether if beyond repair.
Causes of Poor Night Vision
The majority of night drivers do not know how to increase night visibility as well as whether they are suffering from low night vision or not. The common signs of poor night vision include difficulties in seeing lane markings and road signs, poor vision due to oncoming lights, and problems in judging distances and speed.
Below are some factors that cause poor night vision that as a driver you must pay attention to before driving at night.
Many night drivers suffer from eyesight ailments that limit their night visibility and cause night blindness. Sadly, many drivers do not know that they suffer from these ailments and continue driving and causing accidents.
The common eyesight problems that cause poor night vision includes Cataracts, Vitamin A and Zinc deficiency, Sunlight exposure, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Diabetes, and LASIK surgery side effects. Consider visiting your optician at least once a year to get your eyes checked and receive treatment.
Slow Adjustment of Eyes
Naturally, when human eyes are exposed to a large amount of light, pupils dilate to accommodate the light. When they are exposed to a low amount of light, on the other hand, the pupils expand in order to accommodate as much light as possible.
However, when they are exposed to a large amount of light and all of a sudden low amount of light, pupils take time to adjust thus giving one poor night vision. Avoid looking directly at the headlights of the oncoming vehicles, maintain your car’s position, and reduce the speed.
Decrease in Sunlight During Winter
During the winter season, there are harsh climatic conditions due to the high amount of humidity in the atmosphere. In addition, the days tend to be shorter and the nights longer when compared to the normal days.
The harsh climatic conditions negatively affect night visibility, thus, posing a challenge to night drivers. Consider paying great attention to detail and being alert while driving at night during winter.
Worsening of Eyesight With Age
Human eye cells wear and tear with age, thus growing and dying inside the eyes which often lead to eye ailments like cataracts. Thus, if you experience glare symptoms, reduced seeing ability, cloudy eyes, poor night vision, and seeing halos around light then you must go for an eye exam. Seeking medical attention early enough will help you to arrest any eye problem at its initial stage to improve night vision.
Light Emitting Diode (LED) and High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps are a definite car improvement as they offer better illumination and make illuminated objects look more realistic.
However, drivers that approach cars with new LED and HID lamps often complain of disability and discomfort glare especially those that suffer from cataracts, dry eye, and other eye ailments. Thus, you should always dim your lights when approaching an oncoming car, to avoid causing accidents.