Unlike driving during the day, driving at night makes everything harder to see. Moreover, it can be a challenge to see where the road turns, where traffic has come to a stop, and where pedestrians and other obstacles are.
For these reasons, it is crucial to be prepared when driving at night. Here are several useful tips you’ll want to follow.
Keep Lights Dim in the Cabin
First of all, when your parents used to scold you for leaving the overhead cabin light on at night, they were right!
You should avoid driving at night with bright interior lights. This means turning off the cabin light as well as dimming the dash lights. There’s not much of a reason to use the dash lights at night, particularly if you are using the cruise control to keep track of your speed.
NOTE: If you need to stop on the side of the road for any reason, it might actually be a good idea to turn on your cabin light (as well as your hazard lights). This can help oncoming cars see your vehicle better.
Use Vehicle Lights and Reflective Cues to Stay on the Road
If you find that one of the most challenging things about driving at night is seeing where the road leads and staying in between the lines, there are several useful cues you can use.
- First, make sure your own vehicle’s headlights are in proper working order. This means giving them a check from time to time. On the outside, clear off any bugs or other debris. If you notice that the lights are still cloudy, this could be a problem on the inside of the lights, in which case you might need to remove them and polish them or have them completely replaced.
- Second, use your bright lights as often as possible. When cars driving in the opposite direction come your way or a car passes you, be polite and turn off your brights. Unfortunately, if there is a steady line of oncoming traffic, you might need to keep your brights off permanently. If you are on a lonely road, however, brights can greatly improve your night vision.
- Third, watch the traffic ahead of you to stay on the road. You should use their taillights to see where there are major curves or turns in the road (one of the most challenging things about driving at night).
- Finally, use cues such as reflective signs, lines on the road, and mile markers to stay on the road. These are there to help guide you.
Play it Safe and Slow Down
Even after using the helpful tips above, it may still be difficult to see very far ahead of you when driving at night. When you find night driving a challenge, don’t be shy about slowing down.
Slowing down at night is smart. It’s the same as slowing down in a bad thunderstorm or a heavy snow.
Never Ignore Fatigue
Lastly, remember that night driving is often uniquely dangerous because, as diurnal creatures (active during the daytime and not at night), humans simply become more fatigued after the sun goes down. Even if you got a good night’s rest the night before or took a nap, you’ll be more tired at night.
That’s why, whenever you feel the slightest bit like you might fade off when night driving, playing it safe is always the best idea. Pull over and take a nap, switch drivers, or get a hotel for the night. The added time to your trip and possible additional expenses are worth it if you can avoid a serious accident caused by fatigue.