Shorter mid-winter days and longer nights mean we spend more time on the road in dark conditions than we do in the daylight. These seasonal factors can create deadly results. Preparing for hazardous road conditions and limited lines of sight are fodder for safety tips for driving at night. Though the following five tips may seem like common sense, they are valid reasons for being more cautious while driving at night.
A busy day can leave you fatigued and on autopilot when you are driving. Add chatty passengers to the mix – or friends on the phone who have much to share about their own busy day – and it’s easy to be distracted. We can all admit to arriving at our destination, realizing we cannot recall how we even got there! Pay attention to the road conditions, to other drivers, and to your surroundings. If you sense you’re distracted, tell your passengers or phone friend that you need to focus to stay safe. It should go without saying: do not drive under the influence.
We all want to get home as soon as possible at the end of the day, but no amount of speeding and tailgating will get you there any faster. The laws of physics just won’t allow it! Reduce your speed and ease back to give plenty of room between yourself and the next car. Having ample time to react and space to maneuver could save you from rear-ending the vehicle in front of you. Take extra care when the roads are wet; dealing with a fender bender on a cold dark night is not only miserable, but it would also make you late getting home indeed.
Mind Your Brights
Nothing is more irritating than someone blinding you with their high beams coming at you and, worse, from behind you! Modern auto technology has given us lights that dim automatically and even adjust to going around curves. If your vehicle does not have this option, though, be mindful of your annoying – and hazardous – bright lights. Remember, low beams are more effective when driving in fog and heavy snow.
Clean Your Windows
Even the most diligent of us can have spots on our auto glass that affect visibility. Take time to clean your windows and windshield both inside and out. Keep a microfiber towel handy to wipe smudges, fingerprints, and the waxy residue that results from outgassing. (That lovely new car smell? That’s gasses from plastics, leather, woodgrain finishes etc.)
The same goes for fogged-up windows. Experiment with the most effective heating and cooling settings in your car before you have to clear your windows in a hurry. Every make and model is different; some work faster with the A/C, and others have great defrosters. Knowing which controls to use will protect you from further distractions in hazardous conditions.
Maintain Your Vehicle
Every season ushers in required maintenance for your car – and important chores are added to the list when you factor in additional night driving. Take the time to check your antifreeze, wipers, tires, spare tire, and fluids. Ensure you have a good car safety kit onboard in case you run into problems. Find your ice scraper and stash it where you can easily find it. If you live in an area subject to messy wet weather, you might want to keep an umbrella, rain coat, extra shoes and socks, or even rain boots, in the car. It’s always wise to keep a flashlight and drinking water at hand as well.
These safety tips may be obvious, but they are nonetheless worthy of time and attention. It’s easy to forget how early the sun goes down and how dangerous the roads can be after dark. Your Independent Insurance Associates are in the business to ensure you are fully protected in case of an incident. Feel free to contact us if you need to update or review your insurance policies. We hope these five simple safety tips for driving at night will keep you from needing to make an auto accident claim – but we are here should you need us.