During the winter months, fewer hours of sunlight means more driving is done while it's dark. And darkness brings many challenges. We want all of our team members, their families, and other members of the motoring public to make it home safely each and every night. Please review these guidelines for navigating roadways at night.
Driving at night requires your full attention and extra caution, so slower is safer. Lack of light adversely affects your depth perception, peripheral vision, and ability to distinguish colors. Taking the extra time to be careful is well worth it, as well as keeping more distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
Be alert for wildlife.
Hitting an animal can cause significant damage to you, passengers, your vehicle, and the creature. Be on the alert for wildlife, especially when traveling on country roads. Where there’s one deer, there are often more, so use extra caution after spotting one. When scanning the road, look for bright dots, as the reflection of your headlights in an animal’s eyes is often visible before you actually spot the animal.
If you encounter an animal, do not swerve—hit the animal. It is safer to keep control of your vehicle and accept the damages. Do everything reasonable to avoid collision, but don’t swerve out of your lane or leave the roadway. You can do more damage to yourself and your vehicle by driving off the road or into other traffic than if you just hit the animal. Driving onto a soft shoulder is a sure way to lose control or rollover.
Another common issue faced by drivers is night glare. If you wear glasses, try to get a pair with an anti-reflective coating.
Your windshield is another likely source of glare. Refrain from touching the inside of your windshield with your hands to wipe away mist. Oils from your skin will smear on the glass, leaving streaks and residue. Keep a cotton or microfiber cloth in your vehicle to wipe the windshield with instead. Also make sure the outside of your windshield is clean; polishing it with newspaper can help reduce glare-producing streaks.
Be aware of fatigue and eye health.
To stay alert, keep your eyes moving and scanning all around your field of vision while driving. This will help you from falling into a trance or experiencing eye fatigue. Watch out for other signs of fatigue, know your limits, and pull over to rest or take a break if necessary. The consequences of driving while tired are staggering: The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported that 100,000 police-reported crashes are a result of driver fatigue each year—most crashes or near-misses happen at the times you would expect drivers to be tired: 4 to 6 a.m., midnight to 2 a.m., and 2 to 4 p.m., according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Also, make sure to keep any vision prescriptions up-to-date and have regular checkups with your optometrist. The American Optometric Association suggests getting a checkup every three years if you're under 40, every two years when you're 40-60, and annually after that.
For more tips on safe driving, review Ruan’s Megasafe7 Rules of Safe Driving.