Night driving is inherently risky. Though Americans do only a quarter of our driving after the sun goes down, half of our traffic deaths happen in the dark. This means that the overall fatality rate per mile of travel is three times higher at night than it is during the day.
But why are there so many more accidents at night? Let’s take a look at the reasons why many accidents happen during the nighttime. Then we’ll talk about how we can reduce the risks of night driving.
Why night driving is dangerous
The reasons why there are more accidents at night fall into two general categories. Some pertain to natural conditions, while others are about human behavior.
Simply put, our eyes don’t work well in the dark. After night falls, we lose our ability to see the road ahead and the world around us. For human eyes, not even the brightest headlamps and streetlights hold a candle to the sun.
Darkness creates a whole host of problems for our eyes. Judging distances, differentiating colors, and focusing on objects all become more difficult. Furthermore, our eyes tire faster at night, and they take longer to adjust.
Tiredness impairs our ability to drive the same way that drunkenness does. The CDC estimates that fatigued drivers cause as many as 6,000 fatal crashes per year. Of course, there are more sleepy people on the road at night than there are during the day.
Similarly, drunk or otherwise impaired drivers are more common at night. According to the CDC, 29 people die in crashes caused by drunk drivers every single day.
Evening rush hour
The evening rush is a dangerous time to drive, as there are so many people on the road. Whenever crowded roads coincide with night driving, the risks compound.
How to reduce the risks of night driving
It should go without saying that you shouldn’t drive when you’re tired or have been drinking. And to maximize your chances of avoiding impaired drivers, practice defensive driving and stay alert.
To counter limited visibility, start by making sure that your headlamps and taillights work. Keep your windshield clean, as dirt and streaks may catch the glare of the headlights of oncoming drivers. Whenever possible, stay on well-lit streets, and use your high beams when possible.
For vehicle operation, minimize distractions. Distracted driving is dangerous, especially at night. And be sure to give yourself a greater margin for error. In other words, don’t follow so close, choose the center or right lane, and avoid unfamiliar roads. Finally—above all else—slow down! Speeding at night is a recipe for disaster.
What to do if you’re in an accident at night
On the road, we can’t guarantee that we’ll always be safe, no matter how many precautions we take. Accidents happen, and when they do, we need a different kind of protection: legal representation.
If you’ve been in an accident at night, contact Hunter & Everage for a free consultation. We can take on the insurance companies and the negligent parties to get you the compensation that you deserve.