Driving at night can greatly impact your ability to drive safely. A person’s vision can become severely limited at night. Motorists may be temporarily blinded by the glare from another driver’s headlights. The ability to judge distances and depth perception are reduced. It is also difficult to distinguish color at night. Peripheral vision may also be worse. Due to these factors, more traffic fatalities occur at night even though most driving occurs during the day.
The skilled Harrisburg car accident attorneys at Schmidt Kramer want you to stay safe during the nighttime hours and have prepared the following guide below. Learn about what causes nighttime crashes and ways to take better precautions driving safely after dark.
If you are involved in a car accident, give us a call for more assistance. We offer a free consultation where we can discuss your case and explore your legal options.
Causes of Nighttime Car Crashes
The most common causes of nighttime car crashes are due to the following factors:
- Cell phone use – Cell phone use while driving can be particularly dangerous at nighttime. People are more likely to be on their phones and driving distracted when going out with friends. Switching your eyes between the brightness of the screen and the darkness of the road in front of you can take your eyes longer to adjust. If you need to maneuver to avoid danger, you might not see it in time to stay safe.
- Rush hour traffic– Rush hour in many areas lasts between three and seven p.m. During certain times of the year, this includes nighttime hours when the sun has set. Rush hour is often more dangerous because there are more people on the road in a hurry to get home.
- Drowsiness – When a driver does not get enough sleep, he or she may cause a car accident due to drowsiness. Many drowsy driving accidents occur within 25 miles of a person’s home, so it does not require a long drive for drowsiness to be present.
- Intoxication – Sometimes people drive at night because they are heading to social engagements that involve alcohol. Most drunk driving accidents occur during the night.
- Problems with vision – Nighttime can affect a person’s vision, even if they have great vision in the daytime. Drivers may not be able to see potential hazards as quickly as they can during daylight hours.
Tips for Driving Safe After Dark
Fortunately, there are several ways to avoid the dangers associated with night driving. If you can delay your travels to daytime, it may be preferable. However, if you cannot do this, some ways to stay safe while driving after dark include:
- Getting plenty of rest – Be sure to get plenty of rest before you get out on the road. This will keep you more alert when driving, especially on long trips.
- Aiming your headlights – Aim your headlights according to your car owner’s manual so that they shine properly. Also keep your headlights clean and bright to increase visibility.
- Wearing glasses – If you wear glasses, choose glasses with an anti-reflective coating. This will help reduce strain from exterior lights.
- Taking a break – If you get fatigued while driving, pull over and take a break. Get out for a few minutes and stretch your legs. Take a short nap in a safe location if necessary. For long drives, plan on taking a break every two hours.
- Looking away – If a car is approaching with high beams on, turn your gaze away and do not look directly at them. Adjust your rearview mirror if another driver behind you has their brights on.
- Cleaning your windshield and mirrors – Clean off accumulated dust, bugs or other debris on your windshield or rearview mirrors for better visibility.
- Switching drivers – If you are carpooling with other drivers, switch drivers periodically if you are traveling a long distance or if you experience difficulty driving at night.
Night Driving Laws in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reports that the rate of traffic fatalities are three to four times higher at night than in daytime hours. To curb this danger, Pennsylvania law specifically requires drivers to use their headlights:
- When they are unable to see due to insufficient light
- When there is rain, snow, fog, sleet, hail or other unfavorable weather conditions
- Between sunset and sunrise
- When driving through work zones
- When they are unable to see pedestrians or vehicles on the road 1,000 feet ahead from the car
Additionally, drivers are required to use only low beams within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle or when you are following a vehicle within 300 feet to avoid blinding other drivers. Drivers who do not follow these rules can be fined.
Other recommendations include:
- Use low beams when you see another vehicle approaching in an oncoming lane
- Flash your high beams quickly if another vehicle is approaching that has not dimmed its lights
- Do not keep your brights on to punish other drivers
- Switch rearview mirrors to nighttime settings if the reflecting light negatively affects your ability to see
Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers Today
If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident, call the knowledgeable Harrisburg personal injury lawyers at Schmidt Kramer for help today. We can discuss your legal options during a free no obligation consultation.
We work on contingency, meaning there are no upfront fees or costs. You only pay if we successfully help you recover compensation.