13 Tips for Driving at NightOctober 23, 2018
Now that we’re well into the fall season, the days are getting shorter. And, soon when we “fall back” an hour, more of us will be driving home in the dark after work.
Since so much of our reaction time depends on the ability to see what is happening around us, here are 13 things you can do to stay safe and decrease your chances of getting into a collision while driving at night.
1. Wear your seatbelt. Police across Canada still consider not wearing a seatbelt one of the “Big Four Killers” on the road (the other three being aggressive driving, driving while impaired, and distracted driving). For safety’s sake, strap yourself in.
2. Drive sober. This should be a no-brainer, but impaired driving continues to be a problem in Canada. Driving while impaired significantly reduces your ability to see what’s on the road, drive defensively and make quick decisions.
3. Drive alert. Avoid driving if you are in anyway fatigued.
4. Put the phone away. You’re more likely to be involved in a collision if you’re paying attention to your phone and not the road.
5. Use GPS technology. Pre-program your GPS device before you head out on the road. This will help ensure you aren’t distracted while driving, while also ensuring you don’t get lost when driving in unfamiliar territory—a daunting task, especially at night.
6. Follow the speed limit. With fewer cars on the road, it can be easy to speed, even accidentally. But following the limit will help reduce your chances of a collision, as well as of getting a pesky speeding ticket that could increase your auto insurance rates.
7. Adjust your speed to account for weather conditions. The posted speed limit may not always be the best guideline. If it’s snowing, raining, or the roads are covered in snow or icy, slow down and take your time. Driving too fast for the conditions is often a factor in collisions—and fatalities—especially on the first day of bad weather.
8. Follow the light. Take roads that are direct and well lit. This will help you better see others on the road, including pedestrians and cyclists. Make sure your headlights work and if one must be replaced, replace them in pairs to avoid having one dull light and one bright light, which could distract other drivers. The same goes for your brake lights. Having properly working lights helps you see other drivers, and helps other drivers see you.
9. Stay in your light. Overdriving your headlights occurs when “you drive so fast your stopping distance is father than you can see with your headlights,” Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation (MTO) reports. Give yourself the space needed to be able to safely stop and slow down.
10. Minimizing glare. When faced with bright headlights, MTO recommends looking “up and beyond and slightly to the right of the oncoming lights.” When it comes to low beams, the ministry recommends using them when driving within 150 metres of an oncoming vehicle, when following a vehicle within 60 metres, and when on country roads around curves and hilltops to avoid blinding other drivers.
11. Animal patrol. Sticking to the speed limit and being especially mindful on roads surrounded by forest or fields can help prevent collisions with animals. Animals are especially common around dusk and the few hours shortly after, so scan the roads and stay alert. And remember, where there’s one animal there’s often more! Keep your eyes out for stragglers.
12. Make sure your roadside emergency kit is nighttime ready. Drivers should always have an emergency roadside kit stored in their trunk that contains (among other things) jumper cables, a first aid kit, flashlight and batteries, and flares. Ensuring you have a kit that contains lighting aids will keep you remain visible if your car were to breakdown while driving at night.
13. Be mindful of other drivers. Ensuring you’re awake and alert will help you react to other drivers on the road who may not be practicing safe driving techniques. Unfortunately there are significantly more impaired drivers on the roads at night and by being vigilant you may be able to help avoid a collision.
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