As we ‘Fall Back’ to Shorter Days, Take Extra Care on the Road
Stay Alert, Stay Alive
While we do only one quarter of our driving at night, 50% of traffic deaths happen at night. It doesn’t matter whether the road is familiar or not, driving at night is always more dangerous.
What should you do to combat darkness?
- Aim your headlights correctly, and make sure they’re clean
- Dim your dashboard
- Look away from oncoming lights
- If you wear glasses, make sure they’re anti-reflective
- Clean the windshield to eliminate streaks
- Slow down to compensate for limited visibility and reduced stopping time
Compromised Night Vision
Night vision is the ability to see well in low-light conditions. As we age, we have greater difficulty seeing at
night. A 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old. At age 60 and older,
driving can become even more difficult, according to the American Optometric Association. Some older
drivers also may have compromised vision due to cataracts and degenerative eye diseases.
The AOA recommends older drivers:
- Have annual vision exams
- Reduce speed
- Take a driving course; even experienced drivers can benefit from a refresher course, and some of the rules have probably changed
- Minimize distractions, like talking with passengers or listening to the radio
- Check with your doctor about side effects of prescription drugs
- Limit driving to daytime hours if necessary
Evening rush hour (between 4 and 7 p.m. weekdays) is a dangerous time to drive due to crowded roadways
and drivers eager to get home after work. In winter, it’s dark during rush hour, compounding an already
dangerous driving situation.
How can you make it home safely during rush hour?
- Don’t be an impatient driver; slow down
- Stay in your lane and beware of drivers who dart from lane to lane
- Even though the route may be familiar, don’t go on autopilot; stay alert
- In unfamiliar areas, consult a map before you go and memorize your route
- Don’t touch your phone, eat, drink or do other things that are distracting
Nearly 30 people die every day in crashes that involve a driver impaired by alcohol, according to the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention. Drivers impaired by prescription medicines and other drugs increase that
number significantly. Impaired drivers are most frequently on the road after dark – particularly between the
hours of midnight and 3 a.m. on weekends.