5 Tips to Make Late Hour Driving Less of a Nightmare
For the diurnal dweller, driving in the late night hours can be unnerving. Think about a night on an isolated road lined with forests on both sides, rushing home. Perhaps there were no lights. Maybe you passed by a sign warning you about stray deer. You may have even crossed a bridge that seemed rickety, catching a quick glimpse of the steep drop below. To sum all of that up, not everyone is comfortable with a stroll in darkness. But it is at times a necessity. Just think about the fact that this time of year brings forth darkness before dinner time. That’s why you should learn the art of driving at night, because by doing so you’ll gain the skills needed to drive in the dark with confidence.
1. Shed some light on it
Your most powerful tool when driving late is light. That’s why you need to understand how to use your car’s lights, because accidents or collisions can occur if not used correctly. That’s right – there’s a way to use your lights. Many drivers don’t realize the importance of aiming their headlamps, because they assume it’s pointing forward already. However, the headlamps are often pointing lower than necessary, or may not be even, diminishing their effectiveness. So it’s worth learning to focus them properly. Apart from positioning your lights, make sure your current light bulbs are bright enough, and replace them if they’re going dim.
2. “Run away” from the light
Don’t take this headline literally! However, it’s wise to follow the principle as it addresses yet another problem associated with lights and night-time driving – high beams of oncoming traffic. You’ve most likely had the experience of having another car’s headlamps cast light into your eyes, leading to disorientation. It’s quite distracting. The best way to counteract it, is to keep your focus on the road ahead, rather than the beam. Admittedly, it’s not easy to do, but keep in mind that it’s a passing sight, and the ultimate focus is your safety. This advice also applies to street signs and reflective objects since they too can make it difficult to see.
3. Let the dashboard help you
Fortunately, there’s a lot of you who drive those fancy new-age vehicles that come loaded with futuristic safety features. Although you shouldn’t let those devices do all the work for you (safety devices can be distracting), it’s wise to utilize them at night. In fact, night vision sensors are commonplace for cars now, and you should use it to your advantage if your vehicle has the feature. It’s a great way to identify objects and even animals that may go unnoticed by your own eyes. You can also make use of other devices, such as lane departure sensors if you have them, as they too keep you oriented.
4. Avoid the back roads if possible
Some roadways, when travelled at night, tend to be more dangerous. These are your “backroads”, typically winding through thick forests or empty fields where you might only see a house or two. There may or may not be any street lights. Thanks to smartphones and emergency services, such as OnStar™, you’re never too far from civilization if something like a breakdown were to occur while driving at night. However, if you are unfamiliar with a particular route or know that it is risky at night (perhaps due to weather), it would be better to avoid that roadway altogether. It doesn’t make sense to put yourself out there if you can avoid the hazard.
5. Slow it down
We don’t recommend speeding no matter where you go, but you can be a little more relaxed when you feel in control. However, driving at night makes it important for you to slow down, especially if you’re having issues with visibility. Remember, it’s all about reaction time and distance. If you notice something suddenly on the road (which can happen at night), you’ll need to give yourself time to brake. It’s difficult to do so if you’re going too fast, so watch your speed. You’ll at least have extra time to respond if an object or animal makes an unexpected appearance.
Driving at Night Doesn’t Mean Driving in Darkness
It’s understandable if you’re not 100% comfortable with driving at night. This is certainly true if you have issues with vision, or if you’ve had a bad experience while driving during the late hours. But you don’t have to feel helpless. By following the tips listed above, you can cruise any route at night without feeling like your life is danger. It boils down to using the right safety features, learning what to focus on, and strategic driving. Of course, these factors are important despite the time of the day you drive. However, they matter even more when the sun goes down.