It’s not just paranoia: driving at night is actually more dangerous and for good reason—because of factors
like low visibility and fatigue. Fatal accidents are three times more likely at night compared with the
daytime. You will need to be extra careful to ensure your safety while driving at night.
1. Actually, use your high beams
On rural or isolated roads, drive on full beam whenever possible as this increases your visibility when driving at night. Make sure you dip your lights when faced with another road user so you don't dazzle them. If you're dazzled by an oncoming car then avoid looking at the headlights. Keep your attention on the right-hand and stay at a steady speed.
2. Be a defensive driver
You may remember this term from when you first learned how to drive. And chances are you already practice a lot of these strategies aimed at avoiding potential accidents, like looking at your blind spot when changing lanes. However, it’s important to be extra diligent at night because you may not see animals, pedestrians, or road signs.
3. Watch for signs of fatigue
Drowsy-driving crashes are most likely to happen between midnight and 6 a.m. So be aware during these hours that there may be sleepy drivers on the road—and keep yourself alert. It’s important to make sure you’re well-rested and alert whenever you’re behind the wheel. But your brain makes more sleep-inducing melatonin when it’s dark, meaning you’re more likely to get tired while driving at night. If you experience any fatigue, find a safe place along your route to stop and rest, and pick up the drive again in the morning.
4. Take your time
As we've mentioned, driving at night can be much riskier than daytime driving. So it's worth reducing your speed and taking your time. Take regular breaks too. This is important when driving long distances, but it's even more vital when you're driving overnight. Stop for a rest at least every two hours and drink some caffeine to keep yourself alert.
5. Be ready for emergencies
Even well-maintained cars can get a flat tire or have other problems, so it is recommended to keep emergency supplies in your vehicle. Some suggested items include a cell phone and charger, first aid kit, flashlight, safety triangles, and nonperishable food. Additionally, it is advised to pack extra headlight bulbs and a safety vest (the latter makes it easier for other drivers to see you in the dark).
6. Make yourself visible during nighttime emergencies
Should you encounter any car troubles, try to pull off the road and get to a safe place that’s free of moving vehicles, such as a fuel station or parking lot. If you can’t get to one of these safe locations, it’s safer to pull onto the shoulder than to stop in the driving lane—but it’s still risky. Other drivers may not recognize that a car is stopped on the shoulder and could strike it from behind. If you need to stop on the shoulder, it’s important to increase your visibility by turning on your hazard lights, wearing that reflective safety vest, and placing your triangles in the roadway behind your vehicle.
Hopefully, you won't encounter any issues in the future, however, preparation goes a long way in making driving at night safer. And following all of these tips can help you have a calmer, more enjoyable nighttime drive.