As the days get shorter and the nights longer, you might find yourself hitting the road after the sun sets. Nighttime driving comes with unique challenges, especially for newer drivers. Good thing we’ve got some tips to help you navigate the roads safely when the sun goes down.
- Lights On, Bright and Clear:
Before setting off, ensure all your vehicle’s lights are in working order. Headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals should be bright and clear. It’s a good idea to do a walk-around of your vehicle. Don’t forget to clean your headlights regularly to remove dirt and grime that can reduce visibility.
- Reduce Glare:
Glare from oncoming headlights can be blinding, especially on poorly lit roads. To minimize glare, keep your eyes focused on the right edge of your lane, and adjust your rearview mirror to its nighttime setting (flick that tab on the bottom of the mirror!). If glare remains an issue, consider investing in anti-glare glasses.
- Keep It Clean:
A clean windshield is essential for good visibility at night. Dust, smudges, and streaks can refract light and cause distracting glares. Make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition, and keep the washer fluid topped up.
- Don’t Drive Drowsy:
Fatigue can set in during nighttime drives, increasing the risk of accidents. Get a good night’s sleep before hitting the road, and if you feel drowsy, pull over in a safe spot for a quick rest or change drivers if possible.
- Stay Alert and Engaged:
Nighttime driving can be more monotonous due to reduced visibility and fewer visual cues. Stay alert by scanning your surroundings frequently and keeping your mind engaged. Listening to music or a podcast can help, but don’t let it distract you from the road.
- Avoid Overdriving Your Headlights:
This means driving so fast that your stopping distance is farther than the distance your headlights illuminate. Slow down to a speed where you can comfortably stop within the range of your headlights.
- Familiarize Yourself with the Route:
If you’re driving on unfamiliar roads at night, take extra precautions. Study the route in advance, use GPS navigation, and consider traveling during daylight hours if possible.
- Be Mindful of Wildlife:
Nocturnal animals like deer and raccoons are more active at night. Be prepared for sudden appearances on the road, especially in wooded or rural areas. If you spot an animal near the road, slow down and proceed with caution.
- Emergency Kit:
Consider keeping an emergency kit in your car. Include items like a flashlight, extra batteries, blankets, and non-perishable snacks. It’s always better to be prepared for unexpected situations.
- Eyes up:
During nighttime driving, it can be easy for newer drivers to be tempted to keep their eyes focused only on what is immediately in front of the vehicle. This can be very dangerous! Just like daytime driving, always be scanning the out ahead beyond what is immediately in front of your vehicle.
Nighttime driving demands heightened attention and precautions. By following these tips, you’ll be better equipped to handle the challenges of driving safely after dark. So, buckle up, keep your headlights bright!