Why Driving is More Dangerous at Night
- November 16
- Evans & Herlihy
- Vehicle Accidents
After June 21, the longest day of the year, the sunrise occurs a bit later each day and sunset is a bit earlier. By December 21, Austin’s day is just over 10 hours long – about four hours shorter than in June. The gradual decrease in daylight means more people are commuting to and from work in the dark, which increases their risk of a crash.
According to the National Safety Council, the risk of a fatal crash is three times greater for nighttime drivers than daytime drivers. Drivers who understand the risks associated with driving in the dark are more likely to stay safe on the road.
Nighttime Driving Risks
Visibility is the greatest challenge of nighttime driving. Although headlights and street lights illuminate the road ahead, drivers simply can’t see as far as they can during the day. And headlights can’t adequately illuminate areas on either side of the road, which is why nighttime drivers often don’t see a deer until it enters the roadway.
It’s not just darkness that affects visibility. Other factors that may make it harder to see at night include:
- Age – To see as well as a 30-year-old driver at night, drivers who are age 50 would need twice as much light.
- Eye health – Conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, dry eye, glaucoma, and cataracts can impair vision and make driving dangerous.
- Glare – Light from oncoming vehicles, or reflected off roadside signs, can cause a glare that impairs vision for three to five seconds, although the effect can linger for more than seven seconds.
- Fog or rain – Dense fog further reduces visibility, and rain may interfere with a driver’s ability to see lane markings.
- Poor headlights – The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced in June that many SUVs have poor headlights – the Kia Sorento, for example, illuminated only 148 feet of the road while on a curve (the highest-rated luxury SUV, the Volvo XC60, illuminated 315 feet of the roadway in the same test).
Tips for Safe Nighttime Driving
At 60 mph, a car needs an average of 240 feet to come to a stop. If headlights illuminate less than 240 feet, drivers might not be able to avoid hitting a traffic hazard ahead. Drivers can minimize their risk of a crash at night by slowing down to account for reduced visibility and by following these other tips:
- Have regular eye exams – When eyesight deteriorates gradually, drivers may be unaware that their nighttime vision is worse; regular eye exams are important for detecting vision changes or conditions that may interfere with night driving.
- Avoid drowsy driving – Driving while tired impairs reaction time and judgment.
- Keep windshield and headlights clean – A clean windshield and headlights, along with wiper blades that are in good condition, give drivers the best roadway view.
- Adjust mirrors – Side and rearview mirrors should be adjusted to minimize glare from the lights of vehicles approaching from behind.
- Limit distractions – Cellphone use isn’t the only form of distraction – eating, drinking, smoking, grooming, or just chatting with passengers are distractions that increase the risk of a crash.
If you have suffered an injury in a nighttime crash, contact an attorney for the help you deserve.
This post comes courtesy of Frederick W. Penney of Penney & Associates Injury Lawyers. The firm assists people across California with personal injury cases.