How can I improve my night vision while driving?

7 minute read Published on Feb 17, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

A driver ride a car during evening traffic jam.

Driving at night is a completely different experience than driving during the day, and much of this has to do with visibility. Even if you have perfect vision, it is much harder to see when driving at night.

This can increase your odds of getting into an accident, whether with another vehicle, a pedestrian, or even an animal on the road. It can even lead to you hitting a car without knowing. Thankfully, there are ways that you can improve your night vision while driving, and we outline them below.

What makes driving at night so challenging?

Let’s begin by answering the question: What makes driving at night so challenging? As we already mentioned, the main difficulty of driving at night stems from the fact that it’s dark out, which significantly reduces your visibility. As a driver, you want to increase your visibility as much as possible to ensure that you are aware of potential hazards.

Beyond the obstacles presented by driving at night, some people with vision problems may find that driving in the dark exacerbates them. For example, night blindness, or nyctalopia, is when a person has trouble seeing at night or in dimly lit areas. Despite the name, this problem doesn’t mean a person cannot see at night.

However, it does mean that it may take their eyes longer to adapt. Some common signs of night blindness or general difficulty driving at night include trouble seeing lane markings and street signs, judging distance and speed, finding that you must slow down at night, or oncoming headlights bothering you.

The reality is that night blindness is not a condition in and of itself. Rather, it is a symptom of a more serious underlying condition, such as glaucoma, myopia, or cataracts. If you suspect you struggle with night blindness, scheduling an appointment with your optometrist as soon as possible is best.

Beyond various defensive driving tactics that can help you improve your vision and drive more safely at night, some people may also require prescription glasses or other treatments to help their night vision, which makes visiting an optometrist so important.

Tips to improve your night vision while driving

Whether you deal with night blindness or not, it is always a smart idea to do what you can to improve your night vision. After all, the last thing you want is to get into a collision or accidentally hit a parked car simply because you didn’t see it. Thankfully, there are many ways that you can increase your vision, and we list them below:

Keep your windows and mirrors clean

First, if you want to increase visibility at any time of day, make sure to clean your windows and mirrors regularly. We’re talking about your windshield, passenger door windows, back windows, side mirrors, and rearview mirrors. We all know how easily dirt and grime can build up on the windows and mirrors, especially in winter.

Although it might not make a big difference during the day, it can cause glare at night. So make sure the windshield wiper fluid in your car is topped up, and keep a sponge or cloth in your car to clean the rest.

Dim the lights on your dashboard

The lights on your dashboard can be distracting at the best times, but they become even more distracting at night. Dim them or turn them off completely, and if you’re using a GPS navigation system, turn it onto night mode so you can better focus on the road.

Turn on the night setting on your rear view mirror

Next, most rear-view mirrors have night settings that can be turned on to minimize the brightness and glare of headlights behind you. The way that this night setting can be turned on varies between vehicles, so make sure to review your owner’s manual for further instructions.

Avoid staring directly at oncoming headlights

Another tip to improve your vision while driving at night is to avoid staring directly at oncoming headlights. Instead, if you notice a car approaching in the distance, look just to the right of the car instead of straight ahead as it passes you. Focus your eyes on the right-hand lane marker. Starting directly into bright headlights can temporarily impact your vision in a significant way. It can also make it harder to adjust your eyes back to the dark afterward.

Give your eyes plenty of time to adjust to the dark

It takes time for our eyes to adjust to different brightnesses. Thus, before you plan to drive at night, give your body time to acclimatize. You can do this at home by finding a dark room and sitting in it for ten minutes.

After ten or twenty minutes have passed, go out to your car, do not re-enter a brightly lit room, and start to drive. This way, your eyes will be used to the dark by the time you’re behind the wheel rather than trying to adjust while driving.

Slow your speed

Slowing your speed is another important tip for improving your night vision. If you have trouble seeing at night, employ this defensive driving tactic. The slower you drive, the more time you will have to react to various situations. If you know your vision is weaker at night, you will want to give yourself as much time as possible to respond to other drivers’ behaviour.

Adjust your headlights

Increase your visibility by adjusting your headlights as needed. Believe it or not, there is proper and improper positioning for headlights. If your headlights are tilted too far to the ground, you won’t get enough light while driving.

Conversely, if they are tilted too high to the sky, you run the risk of blinding oncoming drivers. Therefore, you need to make sure that your headlights are positioned at the ideal angle to give you as much visibility as possible without affecting other drivers.

Use your high beams when appropriate

Using your high beams is another tip. Many drivers are nervous to turn them on, but there are situations when they are incredibly useful. For instance, if you are driving on a dark road in a rural area with no street lights or in an area with no traffic, experts recommend turning on your high beams.

As soon as you notice another car coming your way, flick them off temporarily to avoid blinding the other driver. Keep in mind that many new cars nowadays are equipped with automatic high beams that use sensors to detect when the high beams should be activated based on traffic and light conditions.

They will then automatically switch to low beams when another car approaches. You can learn more about the latest safety features in vehicles and receive a free car insurance quote by contacting BrokerLink.

Get your eyes checked regularly

Finally, the best way to improve your night vision is to schedule eye exams with an optometrist regularly. This way, you will become aware of any vision problems before they get back. Your doctor can then prescribe a treatment or even prescribe glasses that will help improve your sight and keep you safe on the road.

Other tips for driving safely at night

While improving your night vision is crucial if you want to stay safe while driving in the dark, several other tips can ensure your safety when driving at night more generally. We outline a few of these tips below:

Never drive tired

Fatigued driving, or driving while tired, is a prime example of impaired driving. Although it’s not exclusive to the nighttime, many drivers grow tired as the sun goes down, which means that in addition to increasing your visibility, you will also want to increase your alertness at night.

To avoid driving while tired, have something to snack on in your car or drink or eat something that will keep you awake, such as a cup of coffee. Other tips to keep up energy levels behind the wheel include signing or talking aloud to yourself, listening to music or a podcast, or rolling down the window to let in the fresh air.

If you notice that your eyelids are becoming heavy, the safest thing you can do is pull over until you feel refreshed and ready to drive.

Do not drive on two-lane highways

Two-lane highways are more hazardous at night because you must deal with glare from oncoming headlights. It is recommended that you take larger roads, like major highways, when driving at night.

Watch out for wildlife

All kinds of animals are more active at night. Unfortunately, due to the darkness, it makes it more difficult for you to spot these animals. An important part of driving defensively at night is to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. Use your high beams when possible to identify any possible wildlife.

If you spot a wild animal, slow down while passing them. If they are in the middle of the road, come to a slow stop if possible. Never swerve to avoid the animal at the last minute, as this can lead to a car accident.

Carry an emergency kit in your car

In the event that an incident occurs, like a car accident, in the middle of the night, it's a smart idea to have an emergency kit in your car. This way, if emergency services take some time to arrive, you will have the basic necessities. A standard vehicle emergency kit should include the following: a first aid kit, jumper cables, a flashlight, flares or emergency flashers, blankets, a portable battery charger, water, and non-perishable snacks.

Get in touch with BrokerLink to learn more

If you want more tips on how to improve your night vision and keep yourself safe while driving at night, contact BrokerLink. Although the nighttime presents greater challenges, it is nothing that can’t be overcome. Plus, with the right car insurance plan, you will be financially protected from risks of the road, including collisions.

A licensed BrokerLink insurance advisor would be happy to help you find the coverage you need. We are auto insurance experts, which means we can find you a policy that complies with local laws in your province and matches your budget and driving habits. A few of the types of coverage we can help you find include:

Get started today by contacting BrokerLink for a free quote. Our car insurance quotes are accurate, reliable, and take just five minutes!

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