As the weather transitions into fall, it becomes colder and the days are shorter. Shorter days mean that roads will remain dark for longer periods of time. Now is a good time to review safe driving tips for night driving. Driving at night is more dangerous because it is harder to see when it is dark. The bright lights from other vehicles and streetlights can also produce significant glare, which makes it even more difficult to see. Factors that cause car accidents at night include:
- Drunk Driving: Drunk drivers are more likely to be on roadways at night. More events that involve drinking take place in the evening, such as happy hours, parties, and dinner events, which lead to drunk driving accidents.
- Drowsy Driving: People are also usually more tired at night, which causes driver fatigue.
- Weekends: Most car accidents occur on Saturday nights, and driving at dawn or dusk can also be very dangerous.
- Rush Hour: Rush hour traffic can also be more dangerous when it is dark out. Drivers who are hurrying to get home after working all day can become impatient and reckless, which is compounded further by heavy traffic.
Can I Make My Car Safer for Night Driving?
The National Safety Council (NSC) and other organizations advocate for safe driving at night by sharing useful safety tips. Newer cars have automatic headlights, so drivers do not have to worry about turning them on or changing them from low to high beams. Older models may not have this feature. A motorist should always check that their lights are on before driving.
Dashboard lights can also be adjusted to help with visibility. If they are too bright, looking back and forth from the dashboard to the road can be disorienting. It is recommended that motorists dim interior lights at night. The important controls should still be easy to see, though. It is also suggested that drivers use visors to protect their eyes from glare.
Even with headlights on, visibility is only about 160 to 250 feet and 500 feet with high beams. Sometimes, headlights are not adjusted properly, rendering them ineffective; a qualified mechanic can check to make sure that they are efficient. Also, a motorist should check to see if the headlights are dirty, since this can affect visibility.
Cracked or dirty windshields also contribute to reduced vision in a few ways. The cracks can make glare worse, and dirty windshields are hard to see through during any time of the day. Both headlights and windshields should be in good working condition and cleaned regularly. Mirrors, windshield wipers, and washer fluid should also be maintained. It is important to take preventative measures before driving.
How can I Correct My Poor Driving Behaviors?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the majority of drowsy driving crashes occur between midnight to 6:00 a.m. Fatigued drivers are a real danger to themselves and others, so driving in this condition should be avoided. Options include staying somewhere for the night or pulling over into a safe area for a nap. Rolling down the windows, turning up the radio, or even singing may also help, but getting rest is the most effective solution.
Limiting distractions is also important for drivers at any time of day. Hand-held devices, including cell phones, should be put on Do Not Disturb and placed in closed compartments where they cannot tempt drivers to use them. Eating while driving, arguing with other passengers, playing with pets, or grooming should also be avoided while driving.
Aggressive behaviors, such as speeding, running red lights, and tailgating should always be avoided. According to the NHTSA, speed-related accidents cause 37 percent of night driving fatalities. Allowing adequate room to stop between vehicles is very important. At night, this space should be increased since it is harder to gauge how far the car in front is when it is dark. A vehicle traveling 40 miles per hour with low beams will require 190 feet to suddenly stop. Defensive driving behaviors, such as following at safe distances and staying away from aggressive drivers, also prevents crashes.
What Should I Do if I Plan to Drink?
Driving under the influence is highly dangerous and illegal. Since many people drink more in the evenings, they should plan in advance to have designated drivers or rideshare services. The penalties for drunk driving are very severe in Delaware.
Should I Avoid Highways at Night?
The NHTSA also recommends staying away from two-lane highways when it is possible because the glare from oncoming cars can be quite bright and temporarily blinding. These types of highways also have more hills and sharp curves than larger freeways. Choosing an alternate route is the safest choice.
How can Older Drivers Stay Safe?
Regular eye exams are important for drivers of all ages. Wearing the wrong prescription can affect vision, as well as depth perception. As people get older, their vision can deteriorate further and be more affected by glare. A driver may benefit by having different prescriptions for day and night driving.
Pedestrians, Bicyclists, and Wildlife
Pedestrians and bicyclists may also travel at night. Pedestrians and bicyclists can take steps to make themselves more visible, such as wearing reflective materials, installing front and back lights on bikes, and carrying flashlights. Drivers should always pay attention to speed limits, slow down for intersections, and be extra careful in residential neighborhoods. Deer and other animals can also wander into streets, and this happens more frequently from October to January at night. It is better to slow down and stop rather than swerving around wildlife.
How is Fault Determined in Delaware?
In Delaware, if a passenger is injured, they would first file a claim through their personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. State laws mandate that drivers cooperate with their insurance companies or the companies may take steps to deny the claim. To file a claim against the liable driver, the injured party must prove that they sustained serious injuries. Some examples of this might include full disability for 90 days, fractured bones, pronounced disfigurement, and permanent limitations of the use of body functions, systems, or organs.
A driver who suffers from a serious injury may want to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible driver. These claims can include compensation for medical expenses that resulted from the accident, as well as pain and suffering. An accomplished car accident lawyer will be able to help a victim file a claim.
Delaware Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Victims Injured in Night Driving Accidents
Night driving is dangerous, and motorists should be extra cautious at night. Even the most vigilant drivers get into accidents, and our trusted Delaware car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC are ready to help with your case. For a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 302-888-1221. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state, including Dover, Newark, and Middletown.