Make driv­ing af­ter dark much safer

The Calvert Recorder - Southern Maryland Automotive Trends - - News -

Traf­fic ac­ci­dents can oc­cur at any time of day. But while many driv­ers are com­fort­able driv­ing dur­ing day­light hours, that com­fort level drops con­sid­er­ably when the sun goes down and driver vis­i­bil­ity is re­duced.

Ac­cord­ing to a 2016 anal­y­sis of data from the U.S. Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion’s Fa­tal­ity Anal­y­sis Re­port­ing Sys­tem, 43 per­cent of mo­tor ve­hi­cle crash deaths in the United States in 2014 oc­curred be­tween the hours of 6 p.m. and 3 a.m. While var­i­ous fac­tors con­trib­uted to those deaths, poor vis­i­bil­ity was cer­tainly among them, as many driv­ers sim­ply don’t see as well when driv­ing at night as they do when driv­ing dur­ing the day.

Some mo­torists who are un­com­fort­able driv­ing at night avoid the roads al--

to­gether once the sun goes down. But that’s not an op­tion for the mil­lions of driv­ers across the globe who must drive at night for per­sonal or pro­fes­sional rea­sons. Re­main­ing alert at all times and obey­ing traf­fic laws are great ways to stay safe when driv­ing at night, and the fol­low­ing are some ad­di­tional strate­gies that can help mo­torists make night­time driv­ing more safe.

• Test your head­lights. Many driv­ers go years with­out in­spect­ing or re­plac­ing their head­lights or head­light bulbs. Con­duct rou­tine in­spec­tions of head­lights and turn them on at night to deter­mine where the lights are point­ing. Driv­ers of older ve­hi­cles with plas­tic lens cov­ers may no­tice the cov­ers have be­come cloudy or yel­low. Such cov­ers should be pol­ished or re­placed. If light from the head­lights is be­ing aimed too low or un­evenly, ad­just their aim on your own or ask your me­chanic to do so.

• Ad­just your in­te­rior light­ing. Dash­board light­ing can some­times af­fect driver vis­i­bil­ity if the light is too bright. When ve­hi­cle dash­board light­ing is too bright, the re­sult­ing re­flec­tion can af­fect and dis­tract driv­ers’ eyes, com­pro­mis­ing their abil­ity to see the road. Dim dash­board light­ing to a level that does not ad­versely af­fect your abil­ity to see the road at night, and do the same with GPS sys­tems if they are re­flect­ing too brightly as well.

• Don’t al­low smok­ing in­side your ve­hi­cle. Smok­ing in­side a ve­hi­cle can af­fect driver vis­i­bil­ity in var­i­ous ways. When driv­ers or their pas­sen­gers smoke in­side a car, the smoke that lingers can

dry out driv­ers’ eyes, mak­ing their eyes tired and forc­ing them to work harder to stay open. In ad­di­tion, smoke, es­pe­cially smoke from vap­ing, can cloud up quickly, mak­ing driv­ers feel as if they’re look­ing through dense fog just to see the road. Fi­nally, smok­ing in­side a ve­hi­cle can stain the in­te­rior of ve­hi­cle wind­shields, mak­ing it harder for driv­ers to see out of the wind­shield to the road ahead.

• Sched­ule rou­tine vi­sion check­ups. Night­time driv­ers are some­times be­trayed by their own eyes. If it’s been awhile since you have had a vi­sion checkup, sched­ule one. A new eye­glass or con­tact pre­scrip­tion may be just what you need to start see­ing things more clearly at night.

Night­time driv­ing can be dif­fi­cult, but driv­ers can take steps to make them­selves more com­fort­able when driv­ing af­ter dark.

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