Driving is difficult enough during the day. You need to be completely focused on the road, know all of the rules, and block out distractions. All these issues are made worse by driving during the night. Darkness makes it harder for the driver to use their most important sense when driving, which is their eyesight.
There isn’t enough emphasis put on how to drive safely at night when young people are getting their licenses. This makes it harder to adjust as drivers get set in their ways. It should be made a huge priority to learn how to handle the adversity of driving at night from an early age. Do not ignore the extra skills it takes.
We’ll cover some of the best tips for driving safer at night so you can leave your home and get back home safely at any time of the day. This can range from getting the proper vehicle to drive to sleeping more during the day so you are well-rested after the sunsets.
#1– Get Good Headlights
Being able to see is one of the main items of importance when it comes to driving at night. Things look different after dark, therefore it is especially vital to have good headlights on your vehicle. Many older vehicles have outdated headlights that need updating.
If a professional at your car dealership says the lights are adequate, sometimes giving them a good cleaning will help improve their performance.
Try not to put your brights on unless you have to, though, because this can cause other drivers to be blinded by your headlights. If other people can’t see very well, they might crash into you. Driving with your brights on is also against the law in some areas of the U.S. if you’re within 500 feet of another driver.
Try cleaning your windshield and your mirrors if they are dirty. These items being soiled can really make things even worse for struggling nighttime drivers. Make sure you use an effective soap or cleaner so the glass doesn’t smear and smudge.
#2 – Think About the Weather
Driving at night is even more difficult depending on the elements outside. Winter conditions like snow or hail make visibility nearly impossible to achieve after dark. Always wait for the weather to pass before driving at night. It may seem tempting to leave if you have great driving skills, but nobody is invincible. Nature is usually more powerful than us.
If you know weather and darkness are going to make it impossible to drive, don’t even get into the car and head out. Seek out an alternative method of transportation. It’s always worth it in the end.
#3 – Get More Sleep
Driving at night is about a lot more than just visibility. Most people have been awake for many hours when they get behind the wheel after dark. Others have just finished a long shift at their job and feel exhausted. Driving at night usually means your senses are already compromised because you are tired.
Try to take a nap before you drive at night if you’re feeling drowsy. If this isn’t possible, maybe think about downing an energy drink or some extra coffee before the ride home. Getting more sleep at night — at least seven hours for grown adults — is the best way to feel more awake throughout the day, though.
Never drive at night if you suffer from a sleeping problem like sleep apnea, insomnia, or narcolepsy. These issues could cause you to fall asleep driving at the drop of a hat, and they often require medical attention to live a healthy, productive life.
#4 – Have a Passenger With You
Often having passengers in the car with you can be a distraction during the day. This changes when driving at night. Having a different set of eyes on the road when it’s dark can give you a backup plan for when you miss something. It’s easy to miss things after dark, and passengers can give you a heads up if something is about to go wrong.
Make sure the passenger is somebody who will enhance your driving rather than divert from it. Friends and children can still be a distraction at night just as they are during the day. You may want to check if passengers are covered by your auto insurance before heading out on the road with them.
#5 – Get Some Fresh Air
Sometimes having the heat on too high while driving at night is dangerous. Warm air creates an environment that encourages drowsiness. Turn on the air conditioner for a few minutes or pull over and step out of the car to get some outside air. This should wake you up enough to finish your trip after dark.
#6 – Listen to a Podcast
Trying to stay engaged while driving at night is important, too. If you’re feeling sleepy, turn on a radio show or a podcast you are interested in so you can be more aware of your surroundings. Music is another option if you are not into podcasting.
Don’t turn on any video or activity that requires your eyes, though. This would be very counterproductive to staying focused on the road.
#7 – Take a Break
It can be embarrassing to admit to yourself that you are falling asleep behind the wheel. Don’t let your pride create a fatal accident. If you are feeling drowsy after dark, park on the side of the road and take a power nap. Some research shows that these 15-20 minute rests leave you feeling revived and refreshed. This is a great way to give yourself a jolt to finish a trip.
If you don’t think you can make it to work on time because you are taking a rest in the early-morning darkness, call your boss and let them know you are going to be late. No job is worth getting into an accident over.
You should now see that there are many different ways to combat the difficulty of nighttime driving. Different things work for different people, so try all of these methods and more to determine what will work for you to keep you safe.
Shawn Laib writes and researches for the car insurance comparison site, CarInsurance.org. He wants to help drivers understand how to drive safer no matter what situation they are in.