Driving at night is harder for many people, yet others prefer the lack of heavy traffic that comes when the sun sets. It’s true there are pros and cons for both times of day, but the fact of the matter is that more accidents happen at night. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that there are three times as many accident fatalities after dark. Let’s look at the main difference between the two and learn about the driving modifications and the ways that you can stay safe.
The most obvious problem is the night driver’s diminished view of the roadway. That happens when the wide-angle view a motorist enjoys during the day is exchanged for the narrow path illuminated by headlamps and street lights. Since roughly 90 percent of a motor vehicle driver’s reaction time is due to visual stimuli, it is small wonder that more accidents happen after dark.
Likewise, depth perception, color vision and even peripheral views are limited at night. Without these stimuli, a driver is at a greater risk of having an accident. In addition, visual acuity lessens with age as does the ability to see in the dark. In fact, night blindness is common among those 50 years of age or older.
What Are Other Problems Drivers Face at Night?
Other issues with illumination at night are the blinding effect of approaching cars up to 3,000 feet away and subsequent glare. It can take up to two seconds for your vision to revert to normal. When you are driving at 40 mph, your vehicle can travel roughly 120 feet before your vision clears.
Things you can do to help are:
- Keep your windshield and headlights clean
- Dim the lights on your dashboard.
- Try getting anti-reflective driving glasses.
- Reduce speed to accommodate restricted vision and make stopping easier.
- Don’t look directly into oncoming lights.
- Angle your headlights. If they tilt too high, they might blind other motorists, but headlights that tilt too low will not provide enough light.
- Only drive with your bright lights on if no one is coming toward you.
Because of our circadian rhythm, we get fatigued when it gets dark. Roughly 60 percent of all drivers report driving when they are tired. On top of that, 37 percent of all drivers say they have fallen asleep while driving.
About 4 percent of drivers even admit they caused an accident because they fell asleep. This hazard is verified by the NHTSA,
which reported in one study that most accidents occur between midnight and 2:00 am, 2:00 and 4:00 pm and 4:00 am to 6:00 am, corresponding to times when drivers suffer from the most fatigue. In fact, missing two hours of sleep equals the effect of having three beers.
Ways to Counter Fatigue on the Road
The following suggestions may help counter the effects of drowsy driving:
- Try to sleep a minimum of seven hours each night
- Stop after driving for two hours to stretch and rest
- Refuse to drive if you have not slept or rested in 16 hours
- Try to drive during your awake time
- If you see you are becoming drowsy, pull to the side of the road, lock your doors and take a nap
Additional Dangers Faced by Nighttime Drivers
Some of the other problems nighttime drivers face are:
- The restricted view makes it harder to drive safely: The lack of illumination, as we said above, affects a driver’s safety profile. For that reason, it is best to choose well-lit highways over a local two-lane road that is dark. The latter makes it hard to avoid the glaring headlights coming toward you.
- Be on the lookout for animals in your path: Deer and other animals often forage and roam at night, making their way onto the roadways. Deer become mesmerized by your headlights and hitting them can not only wreck your car, but cause serious injury.
- Look out for impaired drivers: Drunk driving occurs more often at night and on the weekends. It is important to be alert for a drunk driver and try to get out of their way. Look for:
- A driver who is driving too slow or too fast.
- A motorist who changes lanes often and does not use their signals to alert other drivers.
Accidents With Trucks
Just as passenger cars are involved in more accidents at night, so are trucks. The biggest problem is that at night a truck may be mistaken for a smaller vehicle from behind.
Studies have shown that drivers are unable to judge the size of a truck on a dark highway. One way to eliminate this hazard is for the trucker to use reflective tape or lights on the top and bottom
of the vehicle. This should be done along the back of the truck and on the sides, so passing or oncoming vehicles know that there is a truck ahead of them.
Truck accidents such as underride crashes are especially dangerous for those in a smaller car or light truck. When the driver to the rear does not realize the size of the vehicle, it is possible for the passenger car to slide under the truck in a rear-end accident. This often causes decapitation to those in the smaller vehicle.
The Platta Law Firm
If you are injured in a nighttime accident, it is important to gather an evidence-based history of the collision. At The Platta Law Firm, we send our investigators out to the scene of the crash to determine liability by using accident reconstruction techniques. We also examine the vehicles to determine if proper safety measures were used. Reach out to us at (212) 514-5100, or contact us online to set up a free case review. Let us take care of the legal aspects of the case and deal with the insurance company while you heal.