The Dark Side of Driving: The Dangers of Being on the Road After Sundown

The National Safety Council estimates that nighttime accidents are three times more likely to occur than daytime accidents. Although the time of day is only one of many collision factors that put drivers at risk, the following dangers occur most often at night:

  • View from driver's seat at dawn or duskDecreased ability to see. Your eyes need to absorb light in order to distinguish shapes, judge the distance of an object, and determine where objects are in your peripheral vision. When there isn’t enough light, the ability to see becomes compromised. This means that at night it is hard to focus, hard to gauge distances, hard to recognize color differentials, and hard to see anything in your peripheral vision. Furthermore, sudden flashes of light from headlights or street lamps can temporarily blind you.
  • Increased number of drunk drivers on the road. Bars across Tennessee close between 2 and 3 a.m. This means that patrons of these bars will be getting in their cars and on the roads anytime between midnight and 3 a.m. This increased chance of drunk drivers on the road makes the roads that much more dangerous.
  • Increased fatigue. Whether you’ve been up all day or just woke up to start a night shift, attempting to stay awake when it’s dark can be difficult. Drowsiness slows down reaction times, affects vision, and compromises concentration, making driving more difficult and increasing the risk of accidents.

Staying Alert to Avoid Nighttime Risks

Although nighttime driving poses risks, you don’t have to commit to driving solely between eight in the morning and five in the afternoon. Instead, you can take certain precautions to ensure your and your family’s safety, no matter the time of day. These precautions include:

  • Adjusting your headlights to the proper level. You want to make sure that your lights illuminate the road but don’t blind oncoming traffic.
  • Dimming your dashboard lights. Since you routinely check your speed (or at least should), you want to make sure that the lights on your dashboard aren’t too bright. Your eyes shouldn’t have to continuously adjust between a large dilation (opening up to allow light in) when peering through the darkness, and a small dilation (when looking at the bright lights of the speedometer).
  • Focusing on the edge of the roadway. When oncoming traffic approaches at night, rather than be blinded by their headlights, focus on the white line that marks the edge of the road. This way you’ll avoid the glare while still being able to keep your car in your lane.
  • Putting down the cigarettes. The nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarettes and smoke hinder night vision.
  • Using your lights. Your headlights may not increase what you can see at dawn or dusk, but they can help other drivers see you.
  • Taking breaks. If you begin to feel tired, pull off the road and either take a break and walk around or take a good 20-to-45-minute nap to revive yourself and regain focus.        
  • Increasing your following distance. If you only take one thing away from this article, let it this: The best way to avoid a collision is to keep your distance from other vehicles. You never know when another driver may be sleepy, impaired, or otherwise distracted. Therefore, during the dangerous nighttime hours, increase your following distance to allow yourself enough room to maneuver if something goes wrong.

Need more information on car accident risks, safety, and avoidance?  Download a complimentary copy of our free guide on personal injury cases in Nashville, or contact us directly at 615-807-7900 to learn more. Attorney John Griffith has inside knowledge of how insurance companies use any trick in the book to deny you your rightful claim, including blaming you for your own injuries. Call our office today to learn more about your legal options to fight back. 

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