The days are getting shorter, and that means fleet drivers are spending more time operating vehicles at night. Unfortunately, driving at night poses more safety hazards than driving during daylight hours.
According to the National Safety Council, traffic death rates are three times greater at night compared to the day. That’s largely because drivers can’t see their environment as well, plus they are more likely to be fatigued at night.
The vision of older drivers is even more compromised during night hours. A 50-year-old driver, for example, may need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old driver.
Additionally, there are more impaired drivers on the road at night than during the day, particularly on weekends.
Fortunately, fleet drivers can take several measures to minimize dangers associated with night driving. To view a video on night driving, produced by DefensiveDriving.com, click on the photo or link above.
The National Safety Council recommends that motorists observe night driving safety as soon as the sun starts going down. Twilight is one of the most difficult times to drive, because the driver's eyes are continually adapting to the growing darkness. Also, the sinking sun is more likely in the driver's direct field of vision.
Here are more NSC safety tips you can pass along to fleet drivers as a friendly reminder:
- Prepare your car for night driving. Clean headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows (inside and out) once a week – more often if necessary.
- Have your headlights properly aimed. Misaimed headlights blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.
- Don't drink and drive. Not only does alcohol severely impair your driving ability, it also acts as a depressant. Just one drink can induce fatigue.
- Avoid smoking when you drive. Smoke's nicotine and carbon monoxide hamper night vision.
- If there is any doubt, turn your headlights on. Lights will not help you see better in early twilight, but they'll make it easier for other drivers to see you. Being seen is as important as seeing.
- Reduce your speed and increase your following distances. It's more difficult to judge other vehicles' speeds and distances at night.
- Don't overdrive your headlights. You should be able to stop inside the illuminated area. If you can't, you are creating a blind crash area in front of your vehicle.
- When following another vehicle, keep your headlights on low beams so you don't blind the driver ahead of you.
- If an oncoming vehicle doesn't lower beams from high to low, avoid glare by watching the right edge of the road and using it as a steering guide.
- Make frequent stops for light snacks and exercise on long trips. If you're too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
- If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible. Warn approaching traffic at once by setting up reflecting triangles near your vehicle and 300 feet behind it. Turn on flashers and the dome light. Stay off the roadway and get passengers away from the area.