Safety Tips for Driving at Night
Nighttime is statistically the most dangerous time of day to drive according to the National Safety Council. The colder weather means shorter days, and many American drivers will find their evening commute home is darker during the fall and winter. Even experienced drivers are at a higher risk of car accidents at nighttime, so it’s a good idea to know a few best practices to stay safer on the roads at night.
Vehicle Safety Checks
All vehicles come equipped with various safety features that can help prevent accidents at night. One of the most important is a vehicle’s lighting system. Headlights aren’t useful just because they allow a driver to see ahead, but also because they make a car more visible to others on the road. A broken or dimmed headlight can be a serious hazard, not only limiting visibility for the driver but also making it more difficult for other drivers to identify the vehicle.
If you notice any problems with your headlights, see your mechanic as soon as possible. Your mechanic should also be able to fix misaligned headlights, so you can see properly at night. Broken taillights are also a problem. If one of your taillights breaks, the drivers behind you could mistake your vehicle for a motorcycle with a single taillight, or they may not be able to tell when you engage your turn signal on the broken side. Police officers will generally conduct traffic stops for broken taillights as well, so address these issues promptly.
Compensate for Reduced Visibility
If you are driving on a highway with a posted speed limit of 65 mph, this does not mean it will always be safe to travel at that speed. In limited visibility situations, such as night driving, it may be necessary to reduce your speed to compensate and avoid accidents. Stay to the right whenever possible and drive at a reasonable, comfortable pace.
Inclement weather is always dangerous, but the danger amplifies at night. During rain, sleet, or snow, make sure to engage your vehicle’s windshield wipers to improve visibility and reduce your speed. You may need to drive 10 mph or more under the speed limit, depending on conditions. It’s also important to keep in mind that some states allow police officers to conduct traffic stops for “driving too fast for conditions.” The posted speed limit may be 55 mph but driving at that speed in current conditions may not be safe. A police officer may stop a vehicle to issue a warning for driving too fast for conditions.
Avoid Fatigued and Aggressive Driving
You may feel tired if you are driving at night, especially if your typical schedule doesn’t include staying up late. Driving while sleepy is nearly as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol in some cases. If you feel too tired to pay attention to the road or start to feel your eyes getting heavy while driving, find a place to turn off the road and park until you can rest. Pulling over to a restaurant parking lot or rest stop for a quick nap can help energize you for the rest of your trip.
Aggressive driving is also very dangerous. If you contend with rush hour traffic for your commutes, then you have likely encountered angry and aggressive drivers. Engaging in dangerous maneuvers, cutting off other drivers, or other forms of aggressive driving can easily cause serious accidents.
Take Your Personal Ability into Account
Some drivers must wear glasses or contact lenses, and others may have physical disabilities or other medical conditions that make driving more difficult than usual. These individuals must use extra caution when driving at night. People who wear glasses should invest in antiglare lenses and have annual vision exams with an optometrist. New and inexperienced drivers should try to minimize distractions like car stereos, cell phones, or eating behind the wheel. Accidents can happen at any time for several reasons, and drivers can limit their liability for these accidents by using extra caution when driving at night.
Contact our Birmingham car accident attorneys today.