There are a lot of reasons to be out late at night. You could be out late celebrating a special occasion, you could be traveling overnight, or it may simply be that time of year when it gets dark at 5:00 PM and driving at night simply can’t be avoided.
No matter why you’re driving a vehicle at night, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re as safe as possible. A lot can happen while you’re behind the wheel, especially after the sun goes down.
Tips for Late Night Driving
Never Drink and Drive
Going out for one drink and driving home at a decent hour is one thing. Driving home isn’t likely to be a problem. However, multiple drinks and late night driving definitely don’t go together.
Never underestimate your level of intoxication, as it can be dangerous to you and others on the road if you decide to get behind the wheel. If you have more than one drink, it’s always better to err on the side of caution by finding a different way home.
Eliminate All Distractions
Distractions can be dangerous in the best driving conditions. When you already can’t see your best, being distracted can be even more dangerous. That’s why it’s so important to completely eliminate all distractions in the car.
The most common distraction is technology. If you’re using GPS, mount it on your dashboard and pull over if you need to modify your destination. Enable voice control for certain apps, like music playlists, if you have Bluetooth in your car, and leave it on silent in the back seat so you aren’t tempted to answer it while you’re driving.
There are other driver distractions too! Eliminate things like:
- Putting on makeup and brushing your hair
- Uncontained pets
- Unruly human passengers
- Messing with controls, like the radio
- Reaching for objects in another seat
Increase the Distance Between You and Other Vehicles
The two-second rule is the norm on the road. It involves leaving two seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you, but that rule is only effective under the best road conditions.
In inclement weather, as well as when it’s dark, you should extend the stopping distance between you and other vehicles to three seconds. If the driver ahead of you seems to be intoxicated or distracted, it’s a good idea to leave four seconds. That way, you give yourself plenty of time to stop, should the person in front of you end up slamming on their brakes.
Keeping extra space between you and other drivers on the road also means slowing down. You’re just asking for trouble if you pick up your speed when the sun goes down. Even if it means you’ll be late, slow down to help prevent an accident.
Clean Your Windshield
When you hear about people getting into accidents, it probably comes as no surprise if alcohol or distractions inside the vehicle are to blame, but there are simpler reasons why people find themselves in an accident.
Dirty windshields are a nuisance during the day, but they can be downright dangerous at night. They can cause a deadly accident because the nighttime lights can reflect off the dirt on your windshield, completely eliminating your ability to see.
Before you start the car, check on your windshield. Clean it off if it is dirty, or make the gas station your first stop when you hit the road. If your windshield gets splattered while you’re on the road, make sure you pull over the first chance you get to wash the dirt away.
Check Your Headlights
Not only should you check your windshield before you hit the road, you should also check your headlights. They should be clean so they can shine clearly, and any light bulb that has been burned out should be replaced as soon as possible.
It also means knowing how to use your headlights. High beams can help you see better at night, but they can blind other drivers on the road. They should be used in rural settings where there are no streetlights, as well as open highways when you’re the only one on the road.
Low beams are perfect for city driving, as well as when you’re driving in fog, rain, and other poor weather conditions.
Going out at night can be a lot of fun, but that fun will end quickly if you find yourself in an accident on your way home. Follow these tips to make sure you remain safe on the road after the sun goes down.