How to observe safe nighttime driving techniques

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First-person view from the behind the wheel while driving at night.

Driving at night slows reaction time. Slow down. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Chris Keating/Wikipedia)

Nighttime driving is more dangerous than driving during the day. According to the National Safety Council, traffic death rates are three times greater when the sun is down. Don’t leave yourself in the dark when it comes to the kind of defensive driving techniques you can use to make driving in the dark or at twilight safer.

Reaction time is optimal in the light

Darkness slows reaction time. A driver depends upon fullness of vision for 90 percent of reaction time, and darkness severely limits field of vision, depth perception and color recognition. When a driver is 50 or older, experts indicate that he will need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old.

Tired and tipsy: a duplicitous duo

Drowsiness and drunkenness are two of the most dangerous bodily states for a driver. Driving while fatigued dulls concentration, which limits reaction time considerably. Consumption of alcohol to the point of tipsiness or drunkenness is a leading factor in fatal car accidents. It contributes to about half of all fatal accidents, according to the National Safety Council, most of those occurring on weekend nights.

Wither the weather

Commonly encountered road conditions ranging from rain to fog or snow all require lower speeds and greater stopping distances, particularly at night. If you can’t avoiding driving completely, drive with the utmost caution by keeping safe distance from other vehicles and signaling turns and lane changes well ahead of time.

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Steps for minimizing accidents during nighttime driving

  • Make sure all automotive lights and windows are clean and functional
  • Aim your headlights properly for good road coverage
  • Don’t drink and drive
  • Don’t smoke and drive; it hampers vision
  • Turn your headlights on whenever you drive. Don’t use high beams when there’s oncoming traffic
  • Slow down and increase following distance
  • Don’t overdrive your headlights. You should be able to come to a complete stop within the illuminated area
  • Address extreme hunger, fatigue or the need to visit a restroom by pulling over in the appropriate place
  • If you experience mechanical problems, get as far off the road as possible. Turn on flashers and use reflective triangles if you have them

Defensive driving at night


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