Winter is fast approaching, which means shorter days and longer nights are upon us. This biannual time change drastically alters many people’s commutes. With Daylight Saving Time ending at the beginning of November, for example, daylight hours shifted by one hour and shrouded once-sunny commutes in darkness.
Studies have shown that the beginning and end of Daylight Saving Time negatively affect people’s alertness. This can make driving more dangerous around these time shifts. As autumn comes to an end and the days become even shorter, get informed on three important facts about nighttime driving.
#1. You may not see as well at night.
No one can see as well at night as they can during the day. Additionally, our nighttime vision gets worse as we get older. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), a 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old. Older adults, particularly those over 60 years of age, may also suffer from compromised vision due to cataracts and degenerative eye diseases.
This does not mean we should never drive at night, however. There are several steps that you can take to improve your vision during nighttime driving, including the following:
- Aim your headlights correctly.
- Dim your dashboard and infotainment system.
- Look away from oncoming lights.
- Clean your windshield to eliminate streaks
- Slow down to compensate for limited visibility.
#2. You may be more tired after dark.
Most people suffer from extended tiredness after the biannual time changes when their body clocks and circadian rhythms get disrupted. It can take a few days, or even a week, for us to get used to the time change. In the meantime, there may be a large spike in drowsy drivers on the road, particularly early in the morning and later at night.
Unfortunately, driving while drowsy is not a phenomenon that only occurs during the beginning and end of Daylight Saving Time. In fact, a National Sleep Foundation (NSF) poll discovered that 60% of adults have driven while they were tired, and another 37% have fallen asleep at the wheel. Additionally, most crashes happen during nighttime hours, including 4 to 6 a.m. and midnight to 2 a.m.
It’s important for drivers to get adequate rest in order to remain safe on the road. The NSF provides these suggestions for ensuring a safe ride:
- Get seven or more hours of sleep a night.
- Don't drive if you've been awake for 16 hours or more.
- Stop every two hours to rest.
- Pull over and take a nap if you're drowsy.
#3. There may be more impaired drivers on the road at night.
The holidays are right around the corner, and drunk driving accidents tend to increase during this time. In addition to the holiday season, the days are also shorter, and these two factors can combine to create deadly hazards on the road.
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), impaired drivers are most frequently on the road after dark, typically between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m.
It’s also important to note that an intoxicated driver may not only be impaired by alcohol. According to research conducted by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), 22% of drivers tested positive for a drug that would cause impairment.
How to Protect Yourself on the Road This Winter
There is no doubt that it is more dangerous to drive at night than during the day. To compensate for the shorter days and the longer nights (and the safety concerns these factors entail), it’s in your best interest to take these precautions this season:
- Clear your windshield before every drive. Dust can scatter incoming light, create glare, and make it difficult for you to see clearly.
- Avoid two-lane freeways. Such roads are notorious for narrow lanes and sharp turns. Additionally, many two-lane freeways do not contain a divider than separate opposite lanes of traffic, increasing the chances of a head-on collision.
- Watch for wildlife. Wildlife becomes more active at night. When safe, keep an eye on the side of the road and watch for the reflective eyes of an animal.
- Test your lights regularly. Your headlights can be a lifesaver, as they let other drivers understand the dimensions of your vehicle in the dark. Check them regularly and get any dysfunctional bulbs replaced as soon as possible.
- Get your eyes checked. If you wear glasses, a correct prescription is key for driving safely. Make sure to get your annual eye exam, and ask your doctor if you require special glasses for nighttime driving.
Injured in a Car Accident? Contact Us Today
Even if you take all of the aforementioned safety precautions during nighttime driving, other motorists may not. If you or someone you love gets injured in a car accident this holiday season, our Sacramento personal injury attorneys are here to help.
We have the experience and resources needed to take this legal matter out of your hands while you focus on recovering from your injuries. Our attorneys can help you recover the compensation you need for medical bills, lost wages, and more.
Call Kershaw Talley Barlow at (916) 520-6639 to schedule a free consultation.