An estimated 90% of all driver decisions are based on what the driver can see. Yet at night, one's vision is compromised, which may account for the fact that approximately 40% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents occur at night.
Now is a good time to remind your fleet drivers of steps they can take to ensure their safety when driving at night. Experts offer the following 10 tips for driving in the dark:
Keep Windshield and Windows Clean
Limiting the glare from other headlights is very important. A dirty windshield will make matters far worse. Try polishing glass with newspaper to remove all residue.
Clean and Adjust Exterior Mirrors
Dirty mirrors are just like a dirty windshield and can reflect and distort light that distracts the driver. So keep them sparkling clean.
Even in brand new vehicles, headlights are sometimes uneven or pointed lower than necessary. Take the time to review your owner’s manual and aim them correctly so they’ll light up the roadway as best as possible.
Turn Down Dash Lights
Today's vehicles come equipped with infotainment systems and more. These can bring a lot of unnecessary distracting sources of light into the cabin and diminish your vision. At night, turn down your dash lights to the lowest setting.
Don't Stare at Oncoming Lights
Bright lights aimed at your eyes can be distracting and fatiguing. Turn your gaze away from other lights on the road, and don't look at oncoming high beams. If a car behind you has its high beams on, use the switch on your rearview mirror to move it to reflect light backward to alert the driver, and to get the reflection away from your own eyes.
When driving at night, especially on rural roads that are not well lit, slow down. Obey the speed limit or drive slightly under the limit — this gives you ample time to react should you need to.
Follow Indicators to Find the Roadway
At night, road markings can be nearly invisible. To find the roadway in the distance, rely on the traffic ahead of you, watching which way it curves. In addition, utility poles, reflective street signs, and houses with lights can all serve as indicators for the shape and path of the roadway ahead.
Maintain Enough Following Distance
Never tailgate, but it's especially dangerous to do so at night. Maintain a safe following distance so you have plenty of time to react should something unexpected happen on the road.
Use High Beams Appropriately
On back roads that are poorly lit you'll be able to see much better by using your high beams, but only if driving on a relatively open road. Just make sure you switch them off when you see another vehicle approaching — you don't want to blind another driver which can cause a collision.
Scan Intersections and Crosswalks
Your vision is compromised at night. Be extra vigilant when approaching an intersection to look out for other cars. The same applies to crosswalks, where you'll want to be on the alert for difficult-to-spot pedestrians. In fact, 75% of pedestrian fatalities occur after dark, according to AAA.