You Are Three Times More Likely to Die Driving at Night
March 4, 2019
Driving at night means taking your life in your hands, as traffic fatalities triple at night, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Almost half of the 40,000 U.S. car accident fatalities occur at night, even though there is 60 percent less traffic on our roads after dark. Night driving accidents climb during bad weather; when roads are unfamiliar, are in poor condition, or present unexpected obstacles; when pedestrians or animals appear on the road; and when other motorists are driving erratically.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a nighttime driving accident, you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. If another party’s negligence or responsibility was involved in the accident, you may be entitled to receive financial compensation to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, property loss, and pain and suffering. However, your case must be handled correctly and competently, or you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to.
What are the causes of night driving accidents?
There are logical reasons why night driving accidents occur more often. Causes include:
- Biological clock. Humans are diurnal beings and tend to get fatigued and sleepy at night. We are less alert and reaction time slows, making it more difficult to avoid an accident — and we may even fall asleep at the wheel.
- Vision. Our vision is impaired in the dark, including depth perception, color recognition, tunnel vision, and peripheral vision. At twilight, our eyes have to constantly adjust to changing light. It is easy to be blinded by lights from oncoming traffic, especially if drivers are using high beams. It is harder to see pedestrians, animals, or objects and damaged areas on the road.
- Animals on the road. Deer collisions are high in Pennsylvania, especially when deer are most active from 6 to 9 p.m. Deer may act unpredictably when caught in headlights and stop short or even run toward you.
- Impaired driving. Over half of all fatal crashes at night are alcohol- or drug-related.
- Dangerous driving. Speeding is particularly dangerous at night when vision and reaction time are compromised.
- Unfamiliar roads. It is easy to miss turnoffs on unfamiliar roads, which may also have potholes or obstacles that are hard to see in the dark.
Precautions for night driving
The following are tips for safer night driving:
- Avoid night driving whenever possible.
- Clean your vehicle’s headlights, taillights, signal lights, mirrors, windshield and windows and replace wiper blades. Dirt or grease and streaks left by bad blades distort vision.
- Pull over when sleepy. On long drives, rest every two hours. Drive with a companion and take turns driving, if possible.
- Don’t drink and drive or use drugs that impair your ability to drive and slow reaction time.
- Drive slowly and increase your following distance from other cars.
- Make sure your headlights are aimed properly to adequately illuminate the road and avoid blinding other drivers. Use only low beams when following another vehicle or when approaching oncoming traffic. Use parking lights at dusk.
- If oncoming drivers are using high beams, look away and toward the white line on the right edge of the road to avoid being blinded.
- Dim your instrument panel and dashboard lights, as inside lighting can be distracting and diminish your vision.
- Use correct glasses with anti-reflective coating.
- Look out for animals that can cause serious damage. Learn to look for the glow of your headlights reflecting in an animal’s eyes so you have more time to slow down or come to a stop. Do not swerve to avoid animals.
- Exercise your eyes. Moving your eyes around and scanning back and forth through your field of vision helps reduce eye fatigue.