Most people don’t like driving at night because the reduced visibility makes them nervous. The road conditions are different, and the other drivers might even be different. Both of these factors can influence how you drive, but there are some simple actions you can take to protect yourself and your auto insurance rates.
Keep your windows clean and your dashboard clear
We have long winters in Canada, and that means snow and ice will build up on your car. If you are going to drive at night, be sure that your car is cleared. These things tend to build up easily on windshields, usually kicked up from cars in front of you:
- Oil kicked up from the road
- Splattered bugs
And that’s not even factoring in rainy days or windshield wipers in need of replacement.
One of the best ways to keep your windshield clean is to apply a water-resistant finish to it, and make sure sure that you replace your wipers every 6 months or so. Wipers accumulate bits of all the grime that sprays onto your windshield throughout the year, which doesn’t help you see any better at night when the rain hits.
So don’t forget to give your car a bit of spring cleaning!
Use your lights
Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada with a law that requires drivers to use their daytime running lights while operating the vehicle.
All Canadian cars made after 1989 have daytime running lights, and most drivers in Ontario are already in the habit of using their daytime running lights. Most of us use daytime running lights without even realizing it as a result.
Don’t forget to use them, especially in the evening.
Dusk is statistically the most dangerous time for driving because the light is changing rapidly, and visibility can be difficult. The trick is that we’re so used to driving in daylight that we don’t realize how much our visibility deteriorates at that time of day (generally speaking).
More light provides better visibility and allows other drivers to see you. Road safety is a two way street, after all. Using your lights should be second nature, like putting on your seat belt. Get into the habit of doing it all day, and you’ll never need to worry about remembering it while driving at night.
Remember to replace your lights and keep your car in good general care before taking it on the road as well.
Use high beams carefully
High beams should be reserved for lonely country roads where you’re unlikely to see too many other cars or streetlights. They should never be used in the city, and there are few occasions when you would use them on the highway.
The reason is that oncoming drivers will be blinded by your high beams at close and medium range. The only thing as dangerous than not being able to see is being around other drivers who can’t see you—especially if they’re startled at the bright light.
Don’t drive tired
You’ve finished a busy workweek, and now it’s time to hit the highway and head for the cottage. It’s already 8.30 pm, and the sun will be setting soon.
But you’ve got a two-hour drive ahead of you, and you’re already yawning.
Be smart about driving at night while you’re tired! If you can avoid driving when you’re tired, then don’t take the risk. If it’s unavoidable, pull over as soon as you start to feel drowsy. A Traffic Injury research Foundation report cites that 26% of all fatal and injury crashes are estimated to be related to fatigued driving.
When you’re driving at night, it can be tempting to find a big truck and tail it. But this sort of driving is boring and will lead to complacency—you won’t even realize you’re losing focus.
Do these things to change your viewpoint and keep yourself alert:
- Vary your speed
- Change lanes now and again
- Give other vehicles some extra distance
Be proactive and drive defensively!
Wear the right glasses
If you have poor night vision, then avoid driving at night. If you wear glasses, make sure you keep the correct pair with you. No one except Corey Hart wears their sunglasses at night, and, truth be told, it wasn’t all that cool back then, either.
Good vision at night will allow you to see cyclists, pedestrians and, animals who might make an unexpected appearance.
The conditions for night driving are different from driving in the daylight. Respect the difference and make sure that you are well rested, alert, and using your lights properly.
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