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5 Practical Suggestions for Preventing Accidents While Driving at Night

  • By Craig Kidwell
  • 26 May, 2017
5 Practical Suggestions for Preventing Accidents While Driving at Night

Not surprisingly, more car accidents occur at night, which results in more fatalities and injuries as a consequence. Unfortunately, a lot of drivers have never been fully trained on how to safely and skillfully operate a vehicle at night. On top of that, a lot of vehicles aren't properly equipped or conditioned for night driving, which only compounds the problem.

That is why it is important for drivers to learn the necessities of safe night driving and understand what they can do to make their cars safer for the road after dark. Below are a five practical tips that will help prevent accidents while driving at night.

1. Replace Bad Bulbs and Fuses

Your vehicle is equipped with headlights, turn signals, brake lights, marker lamps, parking lamps, tail lights, backup lights and perhaps fog lamps. All of these lights are designed to either illuminate the path ahead or behind and to alert other drivers of your presence.

That is why all exterior lights must be in good working order, with no burned out or dim bulbs. If any lights aren't working, then you will need to replace these bulbs before heading out on the road.

At times, a bad bulb isn't the problem; instead, a bad fuse can prevent a light from illuminating. Fuse panels are located on the dash and under the hood, so check with your owner's manual to determine where the panels are located in your car. There should be a guide on specific fuse locations on the underside of the fuse panel cover, so use that as a reference when replacing blown fuses.

2. Remove Haze from Lenses

Besides bad bulbs and blown fuses, another problem with exterior illumination is the prevalence of hazy lenses. Most modern vehicles use transparent polycarbonate, or plastic, lenses instead of glass, which was once widely used in automobiles.

Unfortunately, polycarbonate lenses become hazy due to the combined effects of road grime and ultraviolet rays from the sun. The haze can greatly inhibit the amount of passing light, thus lowering illumination for drivers and lessening vehicle visibility to others.

Ordinary washing cannot remove the haze from polycarbonate lenses, but the careful use of extremely fine grit sandpaper and polishing compounds can. If your vehicle's lenses are hazy, purchase a lens restoration kit from a local auto parts store. These kits can be applied by most anyone who is able to carefully follow directions.

3. Maintain Your Night Vision

It's no secret that a person's night vision is best in the absence of other light, but many drivers compromise their ability to see well at night by exposing their eyes to unnecessary light. That is why it's important to remove as much ambient lighting from inside your car as possible and prepare your eyes for night driving.

Begin by dimming your interior lighting to minimal levels; of course, be sure that you are still able to read critical gauges such as your speedometer and fuel gauge. Also, turn off or dim the panels for your audio system, navigation system, climate controls, and other brightly lit distractions.

You can also enhance your night vision before you start your car. Instead of rushing off, take a few minutes to sit in your car in complete darkness and allow your eyes to adapt.

Once you are on the way, keep your eyes averted from other lights; never stare at other cars' headlights, as this will greatly inhibit your night vision for several seconds. In addition, if you really struggle with seeing at night, try wearing a pair of red-tinted glasses, as red light does not interfere with night vision.

4. Treat Darkness as a Hazard

Even if you're a healthy, capable driver, it's important to consider darkness as a hazard akin to rain, fog, or other difficult external conditions. Drivers should take extra precautions when operating their vehicles to prepare for the unexpected.

For example, following distances should be increased by one to three seconds at night. Three seconds is the standard recommended following distance in normal daylight driving, so four to six seconds of following distance should be observed in the darkness. Of course, if you are driving in the dark  and rain, for example, add even more space.

5. Be Prepared for Nighttime Trouble

Many people are seriously injured or killed in accidents that occur when their vehicles aren't even moving. It is far too common for stalled cars to be struck, resulting in tragic outcomes for everyone involved.

That is why you should always be prepared to handle any type of roadside emergency that might occur at night. One of the most important things you can do is equip your car with illumination measures to let other drivers know about your stalled vehicle.

For example, pack a roadside flare kit in your car that can be used in the event of stalls. As an alternative, purchase a bright, flashing LED warning light set that can be attached to the rear of your vehicle. Even reflective triangles, which fold up for storage, are highly useful for alerting other drivers as they approach.

 

If you are involved in an accident after dark-or any other time-and you were not at fault, then obtain legal representation to help you get justice. You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses and other damages.

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