Your Fort Collins auto repair has seen plenty of banged up and damaged vehicles come into the shop as a result of accidents that occurred at night. What is it about night time that alters safety for driving? It’s not the cars. There are numerous factors which require us to be more alert when driving at night during the day. You can probably think of several right off the top of your head.
One obvious safety hazard when it comes to night driving is vision. Because it is dark, we rely on our headlamps and street lights to see the road ahead, what’s around us, and what is behind us. Our range of vision is limited. Because we can’t see as much or as far, we are not as prepared in advance of hazards on the road. These could be anything from a stalled car to black ice. Almost all of our reaction time when a hazard is present relies on our ability to see it. At night, we lose significant amounts of our depth perception, peripheral vision and color perception. Ideal night driving is that which provides the most visibility. This could be driving in a well lit city, or even in mountain country with a full moon. However, no night driver can count on always being able to use well lit highways and full moons to supplement the lack of sunlight when it comes to night time.
If you wear prescription eyeglasses, there is also the reality that lights coming towards you, or even headlights behind you, can cause glare when they hit your eyeglass lenses. This inhibits visibility even more. And some people suffer from night blindness to some degree or another, further limiting their night time driving visibility. Your Fort Collins automotive technician has seen plenty of damaged vehicles due to simply someone driving towards another driver with their bright lights on, or from someone trying to pass another driver on the road and not being able to properly gauge the distance needed to safely pass.
There are other factors that make night driving more hazardous, but lets look at simply things any driver can do to improve the safety of night driving before we talk about other common night driving problems.
- Turn on your headlights on one hour before dusk and one hour after dawn to increase your vehicle’s visibility.
- Regularly maintain your headlamps and braking lamps. You can have your Fort Collins auto repair technician make sure they are all in good working order, as well as properly aligned. If a headlamp shoots off from where it is supposed to be, that is in the road ahead of the car, it will blind oncoming drivers as well as decrease visibility of the road for the driver. Along with lights, make sure your signal lights and emergency flashers are operating properly.
- Keep your windows clean. It’s hard enough to see at night, why make it more difficult with filmed over or dirty windshields? You will want to make sure your windshield defrosters are working properly, as well as any wiper blades. Keep the correct amount of washer fluid in your engines reservoir. If anything is amiss with your wipers, defroster, or washer fluid, these are easy things to correct, get them done. Additionally, don’t go any faster than you can see the road ahead with your headlights. Speeding is a very bad idea at night, it greatly reduces visibility, and consequently, reaction time.
- Use your headlights appropriately and with consideration. For bad weather, especially fog, using your low beams is a must for visibility. Be courteous of other drivers and dim your high beams both when you are behind another vehicle, and when you see a car up the road that will pass you coming the other way.
- To avoid glare, focus your line of sight on the edge of the road rather than at oncoming traffic that is blinding you.
- If you do suffer from night blindness or eye fatigue, visit your optometrist. they will be able to help you with helpful eye-wear you can wear just at night, especially for night driving.
Other hazards in night driving include wildlife on the road, drunk drivers, and sleepiness. Be alert for animals by watching for glowing eyes on the road. If you do come across animals, stop if possible and wait for them to pass. As to drunk drivers, just be alert. If someone is driving erratically, speeding, or stopping for no reason, give them plenty of room. if you can call in their license plate to the state patrol, the officers should be able to get that driver off the road. And finally, if you’re too tired to drive, just pull over. Find a rest stop and take a nap, or check into a hotel if you’re driving solo. If you are traveling with a companion, switch places periodically to avoid too much fatigue and eyestrain.
Your Fort Collins automotive technician would rather not have to work on your car because you fell asleep at the wheel or were hit by a drunk driver at night. Follow these precautions to reduce night driving hazards, and get safely to your destination!