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In a couple weeks, we will have daylight savings once again, which means we will be seeing the sun go down one hour sooner. Having less sunlight on the road can be dangerous. Driving with a good view of your surroundings is essential for defensive driving. Naturally, driving at night limits your field of view. According to the NHTSA, fatal accidents are three times more likely to occur at night
Beyond having less light, there are a few other factors that contribute to making nighttime driving more dangerous. Here are twelve tips on how to be safe when driving at night.
To prevent drowsy driving, there are a few circumstances to be aware of and to prepare for. If you are driving very late at night, you are at a higher risk of getting drowsy. Even if you’ve had an extra cup of coffee, our body has a circadian rhythm (an internal clock) that tells us when it’s time to sleep. With daylight savings, our internal clock is already off by an hour, so it’s something to keep in mind.
Having said that, the best things to do to prevent drowsiness is:
Just after daylight savings, the sun glare tends to be at its strongest during peak driving hours for Long Islanders heading to and from work. This is especially the case for those driving eastbound in the morning and westbound at night, since the sun will be directly beaming on their vehicles during the entire commute.
To be safe as the sun goes down, follow these tips
When the sun is going down, it is not the time to be cutting people off or tailgating. Not only is your visibility and reaction time worsened, but so are the other drivers. Do not count on them for seeing or anticipating what you are doing, because their vision may be impaired as well. Therefore, be patient, slow down, and leave space between you and the car in front of you. Maybe your commute is a little slower, but it would be much slower if you got into a car accident for driving recklessly.
Speeding-related crashes account for 37 percent of nighttime-driving fatalities, compared with 21 percent of those during daylight hours—due to lower visibility and shorter reaction times. Adjust your speed and take the low visibility into account. You also never know when something unexpected, like a deer, will show up on the road; so driving slower means a safer commute.
High beams are underutilized, but can be very helpful on open roads where there are few cars. Driving on roads in eastern suffolk or on the north shore can be especially dark since some of those roads don’t have many street lamps, and high beams can be really helpful. Additionally, the further east you are on Long Island, the greater chance you have of facing a deer on the highway. Just remember to dim them when you’re within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle, because you can temporarily blind other drivers. Especially don’t use them if you’re following another vehicle.
While you should always keep your eyes on the road, avoid a fixed gaze and never stare at oncoming headlights. When approaching an oncoming vehicle, avoid being blinded by its headlights by shifting your eyes down and to the right, using the right edge of the road or lane markings as a guide to stay on track. Lift your gaze back up when you’ve passed the oncoming vehicle.About the Author
Steven Palermo is the managing partner for Palermo Law, Long Island’s Personal Injury Law Firm. He has been helping people receive compensation for their injuries for over 21 years. He focuses on cases involving car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents and slip and fall injuries.
His book The Ultimate Guide to Handling New York Car Accident Claims details the ins and outs of a car accident claim in a simple, easy-to-read manner.