The main reason you should drive slower at night is because you have a slower reaction time on a dim road. You won’t immediately see traffic signs, hazards, and other drivers in a low-visibility environment. Driving slowly will help you react to obstructions on the road when they come.
Driving slower at night will help you avoid accidents during bad weather, especially in the rain. Slow driving will prevent hydroplaning from occurring, helping you re stabilize your vehicle while further avoiding rollover accidents.
According to 2018 IIHS statistics, half of all fatal car accidents occur at night between 6PM and 6AM. Factors like lower visibility, higher amounts of impaired drivers, and glare from headlights contribute to this statistic. Driving slower at night will help lower the possibility of an accident when you encounter these nightly risk factors.
How to Drive Slower at Night
Driving slower at night will help you react to oncoming hazards while allowing other drivers enough time to see you. The speed limit is the fastest legal limit on a road, but don’t be afraid to go 10 miles slower at night if you’re uncomfortable driving close to the limit.
When driving slower at night on a highway, pull to the right to allow other vehicles to pass through the fast left lane. Police and fire engines may use the left lane to drive as fast as possible during emergencies. Driving slower in the left lane will keep faster vehicles from swerving around you, preventing a potential sideswipe accident.
Decelerate when rounding corners or going over hills at night because you’re unable to see other drivers passing you in the dark. If people wrongfully hit you, be careful they don’t flee the scene because of the low visibility. Driving slow is one of the many actions you can do to prevent accidents at night.
10 Tips For Driving at Night
Here are tips you can incorporate while driving at night to lower your risk of an accident. If you suffered bodily injury because of someone’s negligent actions, you may have a case to sue. If you follow these procedures during an accident, it will be easier to prove you’re not at fault when an accident occurs.
1. Dimming Internal Dashboard Lights
Most newer cars have bright LED dashboard lights that can disorient you when looking from your controls to the road. Adjust your dashboard’s brightness to look at your controls without being blinded.
Minimize as much light as possible in your car to make it easier to see at night. Set GPS navigators, phones, and infotainment to night mode so you can better focus on the road.
2. Get Well Rested
Get a good night’s rest before heading out to long trips that require you to drive late at night. The dim environment will affect your internal clock as you drive, making you drowsy and less alert.
If you find yourself drowsy on a night drive, lower the windows so the cool air can wake you up. Turn up the radio to prevent yourself from dozing off. Take advantage of rest stops along your route to shake off your tiredness while grabbing a snack.
The NHTSA reported that in 2021, 684 deaths were caused by drowsy driving. If you notice that you are unfit to drive because you didn’t get enough sleep, consider rescheduling to avoid risking a crash. If you have to drive, make sure you keep your eyes on your surroundings at all times.
3. Use Your Headlights
Make sure you turn on your headlights when you notice your surroundings get darker mid-drive. Even if headlights won’t help you see what’s on the road, it’ll help other drivers see you with your headlights on.
Check if your headlights are angled correctly before starting to drive at night. If they’re angled too low, your surroundings won’t be lit. If too high, they have a risk of blinding other drivers.
Turning off your headlights at night is against the law in certain jurisdictions like California. Make sure you know your state’s car accident laws to know whether headlights are mandatory in your state.
4. Use Your Mirror Dimmer
Many modern cars have automatic dimmers to minimize glare from other drivers’ headlights. Lights from your surroundings will further blind you at night, and mirror dimmers can help direct the light away from your eyes.
Mirror dimmers are especially important when passing semi-trucks and preventing yourself from being blinded by their lights. This can potentially prevent a semi-truck accident that can cause serious bodily injury or death when not careful.
5. Use High Beams When Necessary
If you find yourself in a foggy or rainy environment and you can’t see with the brightness of your headlights alone, don’t be afraid to use your high beams on the road.
High beams are necessary under bad weather conditions, but make sure you’re not blinding other people as you pass them. You can turn off your high beams when other drivers are present to prevent risk of collisions.
6. Keep Your Windshield and Mirrors Clean
Keeping your mirrors clean will prevent glare while driving at night. A dirty windshield will obstruct your vision as debris covers and scatters light, creating glare.
Make sure you clean your headlights as well to prevent glare from blinding other drivers.
7. Minimize Distractions
Minimize as many distractions as possible that pull you away from the road at night. Avoid rubbernecking so you drive predictably for other drivers.
Distractions like billboards and interesting scenery can be processed while you drive, but don’t dwell on them for long. Pay attention to your speed and make sure you’re not driving unpredictably because of distractions on the road.
8. Look Out For Animals
Driving slower at night will also help you look out for animals crossing the road. You have more reaction time when driving slower to stop when a deer or coyote crosses the street.
A shine will reflect back from an animal’s eyes when they’re looking at your headlights. This is referred to as “eye-shine”. Oftentimes you can see eye-shine from several meters away, so use this as a signal to slow down and let them cross.
9. Avoid Reckless Drivers
When driving at night, you may encounter more reckless drivers due to less traffic getting in their way. When you see a car swerving in and out of lanes to pass people, either speed away or let them pass. The more you distance yourself from reckless drivers, less likely you get caught up in a crash.
According to the NHTSA, 57% of aggressive driving at night stems from impaired driving in 2018. When you encounter aggressive driving, do not let road rage cloud your judgment. Stay relaxed and avoid doing anything that constitutes fault if you get in an accident.
10. Be Careful With Two-Lane Highways
Two-lane highways can impair your ability to drive because other drivers’ headlights may shine directly on you. Choose a route that avoids two-lane highways so you have room to merge to a different lane when someone’s lights are too bright.
Driving Slower at Night and Still Crashed? Find an Auto Accident Attorney
Driving slower at night is only one preventative measure you can take to stop an accident. Even if you follow traffic rules perfectly, someone may exhibit negligence on the road and get you hurt regardless.
If you find yourself caught in an auto accident at night, make sure you’re legally represented. You need a reliable auto accident attorney to show to the court that you’re not at-fault for your injuries. The other party may hire an attorney themselves to reduce your chances at compensation.
If you drove slower and still got into a crash that wasn’t your fault, you may have a case. Call 888-927-3080 or fill out this short evaluation form so we can connect you with a local auto accident attorney:
Jan Reburiano is a content writer and SEO specialist for law firms focusing on personal injury, disability, employment law, among other practices. He has written and edited numerous articles and created commercial spots for broadcasters that you can find in his LinkedIn. Jan currently lives in Los Angeles, California while writing for clients from around the United States.