According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nighttime is when 49 percent of fatal crashes happen and when the fatality rate per mile of travel is about three times as high as it is during daytime hours. It is also when seatbelt use decreases, and drunk and drowsy driving increases. Even if you do everything right, it can be dangerous. But there are also precautions you can take – like those listed below – to keep yourself safe when the sun goes down.
Know when and how to use your headlights!
- When following another vehicle, keep your headlights on low beams so you don’t blind the driver in front of you.
- What if you’re the one being blinded? Avoid the glare by watching the right edge of the road and using it as a steering guide.
- Contrary to popular belief, high beams are not a good idea in fog. Instead, you should use only your low beam headlights, since high beams reduce your own ability to see and may temporarily blind other drivers.
- When in doubt, always turn on your headlights. Even if they don’t help you see better, they’ll make it easier for other drivers to see you.
- Don’t forget to keep your eyes moving. Look for flashes of light at hilltops, curves and intersections that may indicate the headlights of other vehicles. And be extra careful to look for deer crossing Mississippi roadways during the fall and winter months.
Visibility is Key!
- Make sure your lights and mirrors are kept clean and correctly positioned. Incorrectly aimed headlights can temporarily blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road. Correctly aligned mirrors also reduce blind spots on the road.
- Switch your rearview mirror to its night setting. By changing the angle of the reflective surface, the lights reflecting in the mirror will appear to be dimmed.
- It is crucial to keep your windows clean! Wipe down your windows each time you wash or gas up your car, and refill wiper fluid regularly.
- If you wear glasses, have your vision checked twice a year, and think about investing in anti-reflective lenses. These can help you distinguish fine details during the day and improve your night vision.
- Did you know that when the sun goes down it’s harder to determine other vehicles’ speeds and distances than it is during the day? Well, it is! Reduce your speed and increase your following distances when traveling down the road at night. Driving at high speeds won’t allow you enough time or distance to stop when you see something dangerous on the dark road ahead.
- With all this talk of nighttime and darkness, we can’t help but get a little sleepy. But drowsy driving is distracted driving, and we all know how hazardous that can be. If you’ve made the decision to head home late from a party or event, there is the chance you will be driving while drowsy. Recent studies show that drowsy driving is just as dangerous, if not more so, than drunk driving. What to do?
- Ensure that there is proper ventilation inside the vehicle and keep the temperature cool, but comfortable.
- If you are out at night and feel yourself getting tired, consider asking your host if he or she has any coffee or a spare bedroom you can crash in.
- Do whatever you can to stay alert, and if you don’t think you can make it home without your eyes drooping, don’t try it. We know you will be tempted to stick it out and try to make the drive, but it’s not worth the risk.