Driving at night poses unique risks compared to daytime travel. Limited visibility, drowsy drivers, and impaired motorists all increase after dark.
By understanding the most hazardous nighttime driving dangers, you can take proper precautions and get where you’re going safely.
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The Top 5 Dangers Of Driving At Night
Here are 5 key night driving risks to watch out for.
1. Reduced Visibility
Darkness severely limits how far your headlights illuminate the road. This reduced visibility makes obstacles, debris, and pedestrians much harder to spot.
Night vision is also impaired by:
- Glare from oncoming headlights
- Windshields covered in grime or fog
- Unclean headlights with reduced brightness
- Interior lights distracting your eyes from adjusting
To counter visibility issues:
- Dim dash lights and avoid operating screens
- Maintain clean headlights, windows, and mirrors
- Use high beams when possible on unlit roads
- Slow down and increase following distance
Seeing clearly at night takes more effort. Adjust your eyes to the darkness and reduce speed.
2. Drowsy Driving
Fatigue increases driving risk substantially at night. Darkness triggers your body’s desire to sleep. That combined with highway hypnosis leads many motorists to accidentally doze off after dark.
Warning signs of drowsy driving include:
- Yawning repeatedly
- Wandering or disconnected thoughts
- Missing exits or traffic signs
- Difficulty remembering the last few miles
Don’t fight your body’s rhythms. Stop driving and rest or switch drivers if you notice drowsiness creeping in. Staying alert requires extra effort past your normal bedtime.
3. Drunk Drivers
Unfortunately, many impaired drivers get behind the wheel after drinking at nighttime gatherings. Their slowed reaction time and reduced coordination make them dangerous.
Watch for these warning signs of drunk drivers:
- Weaving or swerving
- Varying speed erratically
- Braking unevenly or late
- Hugging the center lines
Keep your distance from suspicious vehicles. Avoid driving near bar closing times. And never get behind the wheel after drinking yourself.
4. Deer and Wildlife
Deer, moose, and other wild animals become much more active around roadways at night when there’s less human presence.
Their dark coloring camouflages them against unlit roads. Your limited visibility gives you little time to react before hitting them.
Reduce risk by:
- Scanning roadsides carefully
- Using high beams when possible
- Ensuring you won’t swerve off the road
- Braking firmly if animals appear
Extra alertness helps prevent disastrous collisions with crossing animals.
5. Crime Targets
Unfortunately, criminals use night conditions as cover for vehicular break-ins, carjackings, and other roadway crime.
Park only in well-lit public areas. Keep doors locked while driving. Avoid pulling over in unpopulated spots on highways.
Stay alert to people approaching your vehicle and leave extra room to maneuver around suspicious vehicles. Don’t make yourself an easy nighttime target.
Drive Defensively After Dark
While gorgeous for views, night introduces unique driving hazards. Follow these tips to prevent them from ruining your journey:
- Adjust interior lighting for optimal night vision
- Keep your eyes moving to combat drowsiness
- Plan rest stops to take fatigue breaks
- Maintain safe spacing from other drivers
- Use high beams whenever possible on dark roads
- Reduce speed and increase focus
Driving at night need not be dangerous if you adjust your awareness and habits accordingly. Stay alert and defensive after dark. Then enjoy the tranquil nighttime drive safely.