Whether you’re a first time driver or a veteran, driving at night can be daunting. Not only is it harder to see but you might also be more likely to face certain road risks when driving at night, such as fatigue or impaired drivers. Thus, knowing how to drive safely at night is one of the most important safe driving tips we can offer.
Continue reading to learn more about nighttime driving and what you can do to keep yourself safe.
The risks of driving at night
There are a number of risks that may come from driving at night, any of which may increase your odds of being involved in an accident. Being aware of what these risks are can help. Below, we outline a few additional hazards to watch out for when driving in the dark:
Perhaps the most significant risk of driving at night stems from the darkness. More specifically, driving at night means your vision will be compromised. Due to the lack of light on the road, it can be more difficult to see other cars, pedestrians, construction sites, and other hazards. Plus, as we age, our vision often deteriorates. In fact, studies show that a 50-year-old driver may require twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old driver.
Fatigue is another risk that driving at night poses. Driving while tired can be incredibly dangerous and can even lead to a motorist falling asleep at the wheel. Since most people grow more tired as the day goes on, they may be more prone to fatigue when driving at night.
Beyond being tired after a long day at the office, there are many drivers who deal with sleep disorders or shift work that has them up at odd hours. Studies show that car accidents are far more likely to occur overnight, particularly between 4:00 am and 6:00 am and 12:00 am and 2:00 am.
Thus, you should take extra precautions to ensure you stay awake and alert when driving at night. If you feel too tired to drive, pull over until you are awake enough to drive safely.
Rush hour traffic
Depending on the time of year, driving during rush hour could also mean driving without daylight. Rush hour is generally considered a risky time to drive due to the amount of traffic on the road, but it becomes even riskier if you also happen to be driving in the darkness.
Driving at night typically means an increased risk of running into an impaired driver. This is due to the fact that most people tend to drink alcohol or take recreational drugs in the evening. Impaired drivers are said to be on the road most often between midnight and 3:00 am, which makes them another hazard to watch out for when driving at night.
Tips to stay safe when driving at night
Now that you know about some of the risks that come with being behind the wheel at night, the BrokerLink team would like to provide some tips on ways that you can stay safe when driving in the dark:
First, experts recommend driving extra defensively at night. This means focusing all of your attention on the road, avoiding distractions, obeying the speed limit, checking your mirrors, and maintaining a safe distance from other cars. Given the many increased risks that come with driving at night, it never hurts to be extra cautious.
If you want more defensive driving tips, consider enrolling in a defensive driving course in your province. Doing so might even result in a car insurance discount, similar to how purchasing multiple auto insurance policies can also make you eligible for a discount.
While driving defensively can help you stay safe around other drivers who may be dealing with fatigue, it’s equally important for you to fight fatigue for yourself when driving at night. Thus, if you plan on driving at night, do what you must to stay awake. Many drivers drink coffee, snack on food, roll down the windows to let in fresh air, or even talk or sing to themselves. However, if all else fails, it’s always safest to pull over and rest.
Increase your visibility
Increasing your visibility is another tip for driving at night. Since driving at night translates to compromised night vision, it’s a smart idea to do everything within your power to increase visibility however possible.
One way to do this is by making sure that your windows, side-view mirrors, and windshield are all clean.
Use your windshield wipers and ice scraper or wash your car regularly to ensure that it is clean and easy to see through. You should also clean your headlights frequently for maximum illumination.
Avoid two-lane highways
Two-lane highways might be safe during the day, but they become far more dangerous at night. Oncoming cars with headlights on create a lot of glare and actually lower overall light. That is why it’s generally recommended to take other types of roads, such as larger highways, when travelling at night.
Anytime you’re at a greater risk of danger when driving, such as when you’re driving in inclement weather or at night, it’s important to slow down. The slower you drive, the more time you will have to react to an emergency situation.
Since your vision is compromised at night, you may only become aware of an animal, pedestrian, or other road hazard when you are closer to it.
Thankfully, if you’re driving slowly, you will have plenty of time to stop and avoid a collision. Thus, when driving at night, never drive over the speed limit and consider even driving below it.
Adjust your headlights properly
Adjusting your headlights properly can also make it safer to drive at night. If you tilt your headlight too far down, you will lose the light you need when driving. Oppositely, if they are tilted too high, you risk blinding oncoming motorists. Thus, making sure that your headlights are angled correctly is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, angling your headlights is a task best left to the professionals, so if you notice that yours need to be adjusted, make an appointment at your nearest auto body shop or car dealership.
Don’t hesitate to turn on your high beams
Another tip for driving at night is to use your high beams. Many drivers are afraid to turn on their high beams due to the risk of blinding other drivers. While it’s important to be aware of the power of your high beams, there are times when they should be used.
For example, if you’re driving on an open road, in a rural area, or in an area with no traffic, turning on your high beams is highly recommended. If you happen to notice another car coming your way, simply flick them off until the car has passed. Newer vehicles may even have high-tech lighting systems that adjust automatically to match your surroundings.
Adjust the lighting inside your car
Adjusting the lighting inside your car can also help when driving at night; if the internal lights in your car are too bright, it can make it harder to see outside.
Glancing between a brightly lit dashboard and the windshield can be downright disorienting if there is too much contrast. Thus, experts recommend dimming the interior lights at night, making it easier to see the road and the controls in your car without any distractions. You can also use your sun visors to shield you from bright outdoor street lights or glare from headlights.
Do not stare at oncoming headlights
This might sound obvious, but thinking about where you look when driving is important. Although your gaze should always be focused on the road, you should avoid staring into bright lights, such as oncoming headlights, when driving at night. This can temporarily blind you, which could easily result in an accident. Instead, when you notice a car coming your way, shift your eyes down and to the right, focusing on the road markings on the right side of the road to stay on track. Only lift your gaze once the oncoming vehicle has passed.
Be extra vigilant when it comes to wildlife
Some animals are more active at night, especially nocturnal and crepuscular animals, like deer. Thus, when driving in the dark, it’s important that you be extra vigilant when it comes to keeping an eye out for wildlife. Using your high beams, when appropriate, can help you identify an animal’s eyes. If you spot an animal, slow down and come to a stop if they are in the middle of the road and it is safe to do so. You want to avoid swerving whenever possible. If you do get into an accident with an animal, make sure that you report the accident. Get in touch with BrokerLink to learn how to report a car accident, as well as the circumstances under which you have to report a car accident in Ontario.
See an eye doctor
Just as you get a regular physical at your doctor’s office, you should also be scheduling a regular appointment with an eye doctor. Vision tests are important for a number of reasons, one of them being to ensure that you are safe to drive. Ideally, you should book an eye test with an eye doctor once every two years. Since vision often deteriorates with age, this becomes increasingly important the older you get and you may want to book appointments more frequently, such as once a year. If a doctor lets you know that your vision is compromised, try not to panic. Chances are, they will be able to issue you a prescription that will allow you to keep driving and increase your safety on the road.
Test your car’s lights
As mentioned above, headlights are an incredibly useful tool to increase visibility when driving at night, but you can only use them if they work. This is where the importance of car maintenance comes in. You should have your car maintained by a professional once a year. However, in lieu of that, you should frequently test out your car’s lights to ensure they are in working order before driving at night. When testing your lights, check the low beams, high beams, turn signals, brake lights, and daytime running lights.
Carry an emergency kit
Carrying an emergency kit in your car is a smart decision when driving at night. Emergencies may not necessarily be more likely to happen at night, but you could be in a worse situation if one does happen at night, given the dark and potential cold. Thus, in case you get stuck on the side of the road when driving at night, it’s good to have a kit that includes basics like a first aid kit, jumper cables, a flashlight, flares or emergency flashers, blankets, a portable battery charger, water, and non-perishable snacks.
Never drive under the influence
In other words, drive sober. This isn’t simply a tip. It’s the law. Do not get behind the wheel if you have consumed drugs, including both prescription and recreational drugs, or above the legal limit of alcohol. Not only does driving under the influence put your own life and the lives of others at risk but it can also lead to serious fines, jail time, and expensive car insurance premiums. You can find out more about how much car insurance costs per month in Ontario by contacting BrokerLink.
Plan your route in advance
Planning the route you’re going to drive in advance is crucial at any time of day, including at night. Not only can knowing your route in advance help you avoid getting lost, running late which could result in speeding, or taking a two-lane highway that can reduce visibility, but it will also reduce your stress levels. Knowing how to handle your frustrations is vital when driving.
Check the weather before leaving home
It’s a good habit to always check the weather before leaving home. This is especially important at night when inclement weather, like fog, heavy rain, snow, or hail can make hazardous driving even more dangerous. If the weather forecast shows inclement weather, consider altering your plans, either by staying in, waiting until daylight or taking another mode of transportation.
Leave space around you
Leaving space between your car and other vehicles is one of the best tips if you want to increase your reaction time and reduce the odds of getting into a collision. Since your vision is likely to be compromised at night, the more space you leave, the more time you will have to react to something that you may only notice from a short distance away, such as another vehicle or animal.
Wear a seatbelt
Wearing a seatbelt is the law in Canada. Thus, a seatbelt can not only keep you safe, it can also help you avoid a ticket. Plus, if you are caught driving without a seatbelt, it could go on your driving record and impact how much you pay for car insurance in Toronto.
Take breaks as needed
To ensure your focus remains sharp and concentrated, take breaks whenever needed. This is extremely important when driving long distances and at night, when fatigue is more likely to kick in. Plan out places where you can stop along your route, or pull over at a gas station or fast food restaurant to sit down, have a bit of food or a drink, and rest.
What to do if you get into an accident when driving at night
Accidents happen and they may be even more likely to happen when driving at night. Thus, it’s smart to be prepared for the reality that you might get into a collision when operating a vehicle in the dark. If you get into an accident, you will need to report it to the police. After that, it’s time to contact your insurance company. Don’t forget that calling your insurance company after a minor car accident is as important as doing so after a major one. An insurance company will give you instructions on how to file a claim. It’s also a good idea to contact an insurance broker at BrokerLink who can offer an unbiased, objective opinion on filing a claim and what type of claim to file. The type of claim that you file following a car accident depends on the circumstances of the accident and the type of coverage included in your policy. Some of the most important types of coverage in Ontario are as follows:
Please note that the four types of coverage listed above are all mandatory in Ontario, which means you cannot legally drive without them. Some coverages even have minimum limits that you must carry, such as third party liability car insurance, which Ontario drivers are required to carry at least $200,000, though most people opt for higher limits such as 1 or 2 million dollars in liability.
A few other types of coverage that you might be able to claim following an accident include:
While not mandatory, the coverages above offer extra protection to drivers. With this extra protection, you can receive a payout for an even longer list of losses or damages. For example, with comprehensive car insurance, you can be reimbursed for the cost of repairing or replacing your car if it was damaged due to theft, vandalism, falling or flying objects, fire, water, wind, and more.
Contact BrokerLink for more tips on driving at night
Driving at night can be stressful, especially when you consider the increased risk factors that come with doing so. From fatigue and impaired drivers to compromised night vision and active wildlife, all motorists must exercise caution when driving in the dark. Thankfully, there are several ways that drivers can stay safe when operating a car at night. If you want more advice on nighttime driving, don’t hesitate to contact BrokerLink.
Our licensed insurance brokers can explain the driving habits and strategies that can be adopted to make driving safer during this time of the day. Plus, we can provide you with a free car insurance quote and offer a professional opinion on what coverages make sense for your needs. Of course, we will also ensure that any policy you choose complies with local laws in the province or territory you live in.
Further, since we are a full-service brokerage, we offer services beyond helping customers find new car insurance policies. For instance, we can help you renew car insurance, add an existing driver to your policy, and more. Even better, we aim to make auto insurance as affordable as possible, which means we will do everything we can to unlock discounts and ensure you get your coverage at a competitive rate. Contact BrokerLink today to find out more about our auto insurance services and request a free quote.
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