According to the National Safety Council, research revealed that the risk of a fatal crash is three times greater at night. Of course, many of us probably know that the most dangerous time to drive is at night, though we might not be aware of all the reasons why. However, understanding the reasons why nighttime driving is more dangerous can play a helpful role in ensuring we take proper precautions and develop safer driving practices.
Here are some of the reasons why night is the most dangerous time to drive:
- Fatigue: A poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that 60% of adults have driven while tired, while another 37% admitted to falling asleep at the wheel. Of these, 4% said they caused a crash while dozing off behind the wheel. This is often caused by late work shifts, lack of quality sleep, lengthy work hours, and sleep disorders. If you think that this can only happen during lengthy trips, think again. It can happen any time a driver is overly fatigued, regardless of how short the trip is. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), about 100,000 police-reported crashes are caused by driver fatigue, most of which occur between 4 and 6 a.m., midnight to 2 a.m., and 2 to 4 p.m.
To help prevent driver fatigue, the National Sleep Foundation recommends:
- Getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night
- Avoid driving if you have been awake for 24 hours or more
- Stop every 2 hours to rest
- If you are drowsy, safely pull over to take a nap
- Travel during times when you would usually be awake
- Lack of Light: While we might be enjoying longer days now, lack of light can be an even bigger problem when Daylight Savings Time ends. Nevertheless, even in the summer, driving during the dark can cause accidents. Drivers might suffer from troubles with depth perception, color recognition, compromised peripheral vision, and the glare from headlights might also temporarily blind a driver. Even if you turn on your high-beam headlights, visibility will still be limited to about 500 feet (it is usually 250 feet with normal headlights), which gives you less time to react to things on the road, particularly if you are driving at a higher speed.
To stay safe even in the dark, here are some helpful tips:
- Aim headlights correctly and keep them clean
- Dim your dashboard
- Try to avoid looking directly at oncoming lights
- If you wear glasses, get anti-reflective lenses
- Keep your windshield clean to eliminate streaks, which can compromise visibility
- Reduce your speed to compensate for limited visibility
- Compromised Night Vision: Seeing in the dark is difficult, but the ability to see in low-light conditions decreases even more as we age. Someone who is 50 years old will need twice as much light than an individual who is 30 years old. According to the American Optometric Association, older drivers should:
- Have an eye exam performed every year
- Reduce speed when driving at night
- Take a driving course to refresh their skills and update them on any rules that might have changed
- Minimize distractions, including conversations with passengers
- Ask your doctor about the side effects of any prescription drugs you might be taking
- Try to limit driving to daytime hours if possible
- Rush Hour: During the summer, this is not as great a concern, but once the days get shorter, the hours between 4 and 7 p.m. on weekdays can be a dangerous time to drive due to the aforementioned reasons compounded with heavy traffic.
To make it home safely during rush hour, follow these helpful safety tips:
- Be patient and slow down
- Always stay in your lane and be aware of other drivers who erratically change lanes
- If this is a typical commute for you, do not let the familiarity of it lull you into auto-pilot; stay alert
- If you are in an unfamiliar area, use a map prior to embarking on the road, so you do not have to fiddle with it while driving
- Do not engage in any distracting behavior, such as texting, eating, or drinking
- Impaired Drivers: Staying safe also means looking out for other drivers who might pose a danger to you. There are more impaired drivers on the road at night than during the day, especially between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. on weekends. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 30 people die every day in crashes that involve an impaired driver who has consumed alcohol.
Car Accident Liability in New York
If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident, you are likely feeling overwhelmed and traumatized by this unexpected event. In addition to the accident itself, you will begin to see the medical expenses pile on and you might even have to miss work, or suffer permanent disabilities that lessen your quality of life. You are entitled to take legal action.
At Foley & Foley, our personal injury attorneys have extensive experience in guiding individuals through the legal aspects of their personal injury claim and we would be honored to do the same for you.
Contact our office today at (315) 883-2650 to schedule a consultation with a trusted member of our legal team in New York.