Vision and mental alertness are essential for safe driving yet are compromised when driving at night. Our eyes are adapted for daylight and our circadian rhythm induces sleep after the sun sets. That is why unlit objects outside the reach of your headlights are invisible and your alertness slips away as the night progresses. Safe driving under these circumstances requires deliberate use of these night driving tips:
Headlight Use and Maintenance
- Turn your headlights on an hour before dusk. Twilight conditions make the road difficult to see and makes you less visible to other motorists.
- Keep your headlights clean. Headlight technology has improved over the years but is quickly negated by a few days of dirt and grime buildup. If you find that you cannot see well without your high beams, the solution may be as simple as cleaning your headlights.
- Replace a burnt out headlight as soon as possible. Besides reducing illumination levels by 50%, you risk getting stranded or driving without headlights if the other light burns out.
- Aim your headlights properly. Headlights aimed too low or off to the side reduce your ability to see the road. Headlights aimed too high will blind oncoming traffic. If your car is new or if the headlight aim has not been checked recently, see an auto mechanic.
- Keep exterior and interior windshield surfaces clean. While good windshield wipers and wiper-fluid does a passable job of cleaning dirt, dust, and insect residue off the exterior surface of your windshield, you should nevertheless clean it when fueling up at service stations. Oils from hands and fingers, residue from cigarette smoke, and vinyl out-gassing from the dashboard produce a film of grime on the windshield’s interior surface. Grime on both the interior and exterior surfaces increase road glare.
- Replace aging windshield wipers. When it rains, old wipers produce streaking which increases road glare.
- Dim your dashboard lights and turn off interior lights. These interior lights interfere with your eye’s ability to process light coming from outside.
- Do not look at the headlights of oncoming traffic. Instead, look at the right edge of your lane to avoid losing your night vision.
Get Plenty of Rest
The only true long-term antidote to drowsiness is sleep. Caffeine is useful for enhancing alertness and for getting you to the next rest stop, but is not a substitute for adequate sleep. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep the night before a long night drive and make periodic rest stops whether you feel fatigued or not.
In addition to the above, keep your speed down so that you won’t out drive the reach of your headlights. If in spite of the above precautions, another motorist injures you or a loved one in an accident, experienced Indiana car accident lawyers of the Ken Nunn Law Office will fight for the compensation you deserve. For a free, no obligation consultation, contact us.