Night driving doesn’t have to be dangerous — but it sure can be. Reduced visibility and enhanced fatigue can be a lethal combination when you slip behind the wheel in the dark. That being said, there are some simple steps you can take to save yourself from the worst case scenario and arrive at your destination safe and sound.
Check out these three important tips for staying safe while driving at night:
1. Know Your Limits
Some of the worst night driving accidents happen to people who are just a few miles away from home. Trying to push through fatigue can be a deadly decision, which means you should set realistic expectations in regards to the distance you can cover in the dark after already having been up for a full day. Plan each leg of your trip and stick to the schedule — don’t give in to the temptation of trying to make it to the next exit or rest stop once you reach the limit you’ve set for yourself.
2. Stay Alert
Energy drinks and coffee are some tried-and-true methods used by overnight drivers, but you might also want to consider a few things that don’t involve chemical enhancement. Taking regular breaks from the road — that is, pulling over every hour or two to get out and walk around for five minutes or so — can make a big difference while trying to stay focused at night.
You should also aim your car’s climate vents to hit you with a gentle stream of cool air, and dim your interior lights to reduce glare. Both of these simple measures should help keep you awake in the dark without irritating your senses. Rolling down a window is also a good alternative, as it brings in fresh air and adds a bit of noise to the cabin to prevent you from being lulled into sleep.
If you have to do any long distance night driving, it’s always a good idea to avoid doing it alone if you can. Having a friend there beside you in the passenger seat to talk to you and keep your mind engaged while you drive is one of the best ways to stay safe in the dark. It also makes the miles much less lonely and gives you the chance to swap out shifts behind the wheel so you can nap if needed.
Driving at night is a necessity for most people in today’s mile-a-minute society, but it should never be taken lightly. As long as you pay attention to your surroundings and yourself, you should be able to safely traverse those moon-lit highways and byways.
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Photo courtesy of MorgueFile
Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.