We all love driving down to that long awaited holiday destination for a weekend or might want to drive to a new destination for the sake of driving and adventure. In either case, there are times when the journey length forces us to leave behind the light of day and continue the drive while the black sheet of darkness is upon is. With traffic conditions equivalent to juggling with chainsaws, driving at night takes the chainsaw juggling to a new level of danger and adventure – juggling blindfolded. There are all sort of risks on the way that can clearly cause a massive catastrophe. Animals, humans, machines and diversions that were supposed to be converted into drivable roads 3 years back are some of the things that can be causes of major accidents while driving under the low-visibility conditions of the night. So like every other sensible word of advice, here are a few things that you should take care of while traveling at night
Always be aware of your headlight angle
Oncoming traffic gets greatly blinded by the reflection of high beams into their eyes. While the headlights on modern cars are powerful, the windscreens act as amplifiers and increase the daze of the lights when it hits the glass. Always ensure that the beams are on low whenever approaching a car from behind too as the rear view mirrors reflects most of the light on to the drivers eyes, temporarily blinding them of vision.
Pay Attention to all the Mirrors
Most cars have blind spots while looking back through the mirrors, as they do not cover the entire area around the car. Generally smaller objects such as motorcycles and bicycles get hidden in these blind areas. This is only amplified at night as visibility is further reduced. While changing lanes or making turns always use a combination of rear view mirror and actually swivelling your head left to right to double check areas around the car while clearly indicating your direction of travel. Also, the lane changes and turns should be gradual with no abrupt moment to catch other motorists off-guard.
Never Exceed your Capabilities
Night driving can be strenuous as there are higher levels or concentration required tiring the driver quite quickly. If feeling drowsy, make sure to take ample stops to refresh yourself. Most night accident cases on the highways happen due to a driver in fatigued state. Do not try to drive unless absolutely necessary. Take a overnight halt would not only reduce un necessary risks but would also result in a fresher start the next day.
Drive at Manageable Speeds
At night the visibility is reduced to the distance of the headlights beams. This reduces the distance and the reaction time between the vehicle and obstacle. Adjust your driving speed according to the visible distance to ensure ample reaction time incase there is a need for an emergency maneuver. Also, at night, it becomes difficult for others to properly judge the speed of oncoming vehicles, resulting in misjudgments.
Proper Indication while Overtaking
At night, most motorists are impaired by vision. To top it off, most of the car drivers pull up there windows on the highways due to excessive wind noise making them completely detached with the surroundings. While overtaking, it is a must to flash the headlights until there is surety that the driver of the other vehicle is aware of the overtake. In most cases, the headlight flashing is the only way to signal other cars as due to the closed windows, there would be less or no sound of the horn that would reach the driver. And it goes without saying, never overtake from the wrong side (applies for anytime of the day or night )
Ensure Clear Vision
A dirty windscreen or mirrors drastically reduce viewing distance at night. Ensure these glass surfaces are crystal clear as even slight streaks or patches of oil, dirt or smear would result in heavy glare, temporarily blinding vision. Ensure that these glass surfaces are thoroughly cleaned with water (preferably soap water) and then dried with paper (never use cloth as it would smear even more)
If you are the kind of person who frequently drives after dark then investing in a pair of fog lights would give that extra visibility on road. Beware though, these fog lights are very powerful and can easily blind oncoming motorists and have to be used responsibly without causing others trouble.
The lights from the instrument cluster and the entire multimedia interface can lead to strain to the eyes while driving long distances. Keep the ambient lighting inside the car at the lowest setting so that they don’t distract flare the vision.
Use specialized Glasses
On frequent long distance night journeys, it makes sense to also invest in a pair of anti-glare glasses. While they cut down the jarring glare from on coming vehicles, they relieve the eyes from getting easily strained under prolonged night driving situations.
And yes, Avoid Smoking
It has been scientifically proved that smoking while driving increases the increase in levels of carbon monoxide and nicotine in the blood stream are one of the major drivers of hampered night vision.