Driving at night can often be stressful, especially for young drivers. Drivers have to be much more vigilant and cautious than when daytime driving, particularly when the seasons change, the sun goes down earlier and the weather brings riskier conditions.
Like driving in bad weather or on rough terrain, your driving habits must adapt to the extra challenge. A few tips can help you reduce the risks of accidents and maintain peace of mind.
Clean your windshield well
It may seem less important when driving in the day, but at night, dust and fingerprints make your windshield dangerous. The reflections that oncoming headlights create can momentarily blind you and distract you on the road. Before leaving, take the time to clean not only the outside of the windshield with the wipers, but also the interior with window cleaner.
When driving at night, lower the intensity of your dashboard lights to avoid having them interfere with the more essential lights outside. Turn off your cell phone, and if you absolutely must make a call or send a text message, take the time to park safely beforehand. Texting at the wheel is the second cause of mortality on the road, killing hundreds of Canadians each year. Just a minute of not paying attention can upend lives.
Tired? Put the keys away!
If you feel tired, if you’re short on sleep or if you feel a cold coming on, don’t get behind the wheel. Not only is it dangerous for you, but driving with weakened faculties can be deadly for others you share the road with. Plus, contrary to popular wisdom, an energy drink does not make you more alert, but a sound night’s sleep does.
Adjust your headlights correctly
Poorly positioned headlights can inconvenience other drivers by creating a glare that blinds them. Plus, they don’t light the road properly: a potential obstacle may catch your eye too late and cause an accident. Before hitting the road, check that your headlights are properly aligned. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but it makes a big difference on the road.
Drive a little slower
If you drive on an unlit road at night, your vision’s range goes only as far as your headlights reach. If you drive too fast, your low beams will not cover enough distance to make an emergency stop. Make it a point to drive slower than the daytime speed limit so that you have more time to react if something suddenly appears from the darkness.
It’s a good rule of thumb to take a break every two hours. Keep in mind that the moment you feel itchy eyes, a stiff neck or irritability, you’re experiencing the signs of coming fatigue, so get off the road for a bit. And coffee is not the solution. It doesn’t actually make you any less tired, it just hides your fatigue momentarily.
Driving at night can be a pleasure if you take a few simple but effective precautions. If you’re leaving on a long trip or if you have an old car, take the time to bring it into a garage before setting off. If you drive at night in the wintertime, double your caution, and take a moment to read up on our article on driving in winter!