If you are like many other people in Pennsylvania, your day does not end once the sun sets. You may be coming home from work, rushing to a late-night party or headed out for dinner with friends. Navigating the roadways at night, however, is often more dangerous than during the day.
According to AAA, nighttime drivers are three times more likely to get into a deadly car accident than during daylight hours. It is critical to understand what dangers are present and how to drive safely after the sun goes down.
What does natural light do?
A lack of natural sunlight can make it difficult to see, even with an abundance of streetlights and bright headlights. The National Safety Council reports that depth perception, peripheral vision and color recognition are compromised without natural light. For example, it is more difficult for you to tell the distance and speed of an oncoming car at night. Headlights only offer a 300-500 feet visibility range, giving you less time to react to animals, objects in the road, weather conditions and other drivers. Furthermore, bright headlights can cause temporary blindness, making it more difficult to see clearly after looking at oncoming traffic.
Elderly drivers who suffer from eye disorders, such as cataracts, glaucoma or macular degeneration, have trouble seeing in low light conditions and should avoid driving at night.
What should you do?
There are steps you can take to minimize nighttime hazards. These include the following, according to the NSC:
- Avoid looking directly into oncoming headlights
- Make sure your headlights are working properly and are clean
- Slow down
- Avoid other distractions, such as using your cellphone
- Eliminate streaks on your windshield
- Wear your glasses or contacts and have your eyes checked regularly
It is important that you avoid driving while tired or intoxicated, as the number of people driving under those conditions increases at night.
Although you cannot control other drivers’ behaviors, you can ensure you do everything possible to keep yourself safe while driving at night.