Vehicles: Night Traffic Hazards

Vehicles: Night Traffic Hazards

Night driving can give you a real feeling of security provided you abide by the rules, courtesy and common sense demanded for after-dark travel.  Basically, humans cannot see in the dark so they must attune their other faculties and use all mechanical means available to assist them in any form of locomotion when darkness falls.

With headlights properly adjusted for “see-ability,” with the motor naturally running smoother as the cool night air takes over, you can sit back and let the miles roll behind you.  However, don’t let this feeling of well being lull you into a sense of false security.  It is a well-established fact that two-thirds of the traffic deaths occur at night even though only about one-third of the miles driven are after sundown.  The most lethal time of day is twilight.  So remember to “slow down at sundown.’’

Unless you are prepared to adjust your way of thinking and driving to the many factors involved in driving after dark you should, for the safety of others, stay off the road after sundown.  One of the big factors involved in after-dark accidents is that of bad night vision.  In a study of one group of drivers involved in after-dark highway accidents, it was found that 48 percent had night blindness.  Night vision and headlight glare resistance get progressively poorer as one grows older.  This reduction of vision doesn’t become noticeable to drivers until they reach the age of about 45 years, but then they find it progressively more difficult to distinguish objects at night. This condition does not depend on the health of the eyes since the same difficulty affects those with normal eyesight as those who require glasses.  A man of 55 with 20-20 vision needs at least twice as much light to distinguish the same object at night as will his teenage son who also has 20-20 vision.  Because of reduced vision and many deceiving flashing lights, you just can’t see the dangers as quickly as you can in daytime.

Here are some proven guidelines for driving safely after dark:

  • Turn on your headlights when it gets too dark to read your instrument panel easily.
  • Clean the windshield. Driving with a dirty windshield at night is the same as driving blindfolded and it also increases glare.
  • Don’t drive at night unless you are well-rested.
  • Dim your headlights at least within 500 feet of approaching traffic and keep your lights dim when following within 200 feet of another vehicle.
  • Drive at a speed which will allow you to stop within the area illuminated by your headlights.
  • Check all lights to see that they are not burned out and are working properly.

REMEMBER: “It takes a train approximately 14 seconds to pass a railway crossing whether your car is there or not.”