Monday, 20 May 2013

Why Do Car Accidents Increase At Night?

night driving

If you’ve ever driven at night, you’ve probably noticed how different it is from daytime driving.  Even when navigating familiar routes at night, rather than during daylight hours, it is easy to become disorientated and you may find that you need to concentrate on your driving much more.  There are numerous factors responsible for the increase of car accidents at night, many of them different from day time accident factors.  Many car accident victims suffer from injuries sustained in a night time accident that were not their fault and leave them searching for a competent and dependable car accident attorney to help them seek compensation for their injuries.  Like day time accidents, a majority of night time accidents are preventable. 

Dangers at Night

According to the National Safety Council, traffic death rates are three times greater at night than during the day and 55% of all driving fatalities occur after dark with 62% of pedestrian fatalities occurring at night.  Night time driving is more dangerous for many reasons, one being darkness itself. 

About 90% of a driver’s reaction depends on vision and as we’ve all experienced from time to time, it’s much harder to see at night.  Some drivers even suffer from “night blindness”, a vision issue that makes some individuals have very poor vision after dusk.   Additionally, a driver’s depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision (all important while driving) are impaired at night. Age also has a tendency to weaken eyesight, so older drivers often have a more difficult time driving in the evening.

Some common factors, that account for the majority of night time driving accidents, include driver’s fatigue and drunk driving incidents.  A tired driver is just as dangerous as a drunk driver, as drowsiness can slow a driver’s reaction time and concentration is impaired.

Many alcohol related crashes occur in the evening, as many motorists, who choose to drink and drive, go out for a few in the evening.  In 32% of total traffic fatalities, at least one driver had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher (which is above the legal limit).

 Ways to Better Prepare Yourself for Nighttime Driving

It’s impossible to avoid driving at night, but there are ways to reduce dangers of driving at night:

-          Don’t exceed the speed limit and make sure you keep your distance from the car in front of you.  It’s wise to stay at least one car length in distance away.

-          Use your headlights from sunset to sunrise and during inclement weather.  Many cars have automatic headlights, but when in doubt turn them on.

-          Make sure your headlights, taillights, turn signals, and windows are cleaned on a regular basis and that you are able to see out of your window.  Stock up on window washer fluid and test your headlights and other signals often to make sure they are in working order.  It’s important that you are visible to other drivers, especially at night.

-          Make sure your headlights are properly aligned, as uneven headlight beams can blind other drivers and impair your visibility on the road.

-          Don’t use your high beams when following another car.  Additionally, if an oncoming driver does not lower their high beams, try to avoid looking directly at their lights, but rather look at the white lines on the shoulder of the road (to the right of you).

-          Never drink and drive.  Even a couple of drinks can relax you and have the same effects of a drowsy driver.

-          If you become tired, while driving, take a break if possible.  Get out of the car, have a snack, stretch or have some water.  Drinking water can increase your energy.

-          If you have an emergency, while on the road, pull over to safety and make sure to turn on your hazards.  It is extremely that you make yourself as visible as possible to other motorists.  If possible, stay in your car until help arrives.

It is nearly impossible to avoid night time driving, but try to take the majority of your trips during day light hours when you are better rested and have optimum visibility.  Taking extra precautions on the road, at night, can keep you out of danger.  Don’t let the darkness control you, take control of your own driving by taking your time and making your trip as safe as possible.

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Andrew Miller is an Avid Legal Blogger, environmental law student, and author. Find him on Twitter @amillerblog