It’s inevitable to find yourself having to drive in the dark sometimes. Whether you’re leaving a late dinner, gathering, or in the Wisconsin winter months combating daylight savings time as it gets darker earlier in the day. According to the National Safety Council, while we do only one quarter of our driving at night, 50% of traffic deaths happen at night. By taking extra precautions, you can help protect yourself from the dangers of night driving.
Tips for Driving in the Dark at Night
- Stay defensive. When driving at night, it’s important to drive defensively around other vehicles and be aware surrounding objects.
- Increase your safe distance between other cars.
- Maintain an appropriate speed for conditions, whether that is the speed limit or under.
- Watch for pedestrians, bicyclists, road workers and wildlife. Especially in Wisconsin, keep an eye out for deer and be aware what to do in case of a deer collision.
- Adjust your internal lights. Dim the interior lights in your car. If your internal dashboard lights are too bright, glancing from your bright dashboard to the dark road can be disorienting. Your dashboard should be readable but not distracting.
- Use high beams when appropriate. Always make sure your headlights are on after dusk and use high beams when appropriate to see further distances. Be conscious to turn your high beams off when another car is approaching or you are following a vehicle. Do not look directly into the headlights of oncoming vehicles. Instead, glance down to the right focusing along the white line to avoid visual impairment from the bright lights.
- Reduce distractions. Always avoid distractions while driving but especially at night. Distractions are tasks that require a driver to take his/her eyes off the road, hands off the steering wheel, and mind off of the road. When tasks require all three of those domains (visual, manual, cognitive) they are considered to be a triple threat to safety. Avoid unsafe driving habits such as speeding, texting, emailing, reaching in the backseat, adjusting the radio, eating and other distractions. Distracted driving reduces your reaction time leaving opportunity for an accident.
- Schedule regular eye exams. Getting an annual eye exam can be helpful to combat any potential vision issues. Dry eyes are a common problem which can cause discomfort concentrating driving at night. Remember to blink! If you struggle with distracting glares from lights at night, driving glasses may help. Talk with your optometrist for night driving eye care recommendations.
Make sure to regularly check your vehicles’ turn signals, headlights and brake lights for safe driving at all times of the day. Check your headlights for proper alignment, not too high or too low. If they need adjustments, ask your auto garage for assistance.
Protect yourself with the right car insurance year round. Reach out to your local Rural Mutual insurance agent to customize a policy specific to you.