Fall is here and winter is coming! This means days are getting shorter and nights are getting longer. The thing is with longer nights, there’s increased danger on the roads. Close to half (49%) of passenger vehicle occupant fatalities occur during nighttime. Yet, only 25% of travel occurs during hours of darkness. That makes the fatality rate per vehicle mile driven three times higher at night than it is during the day.
Why Is Night Driving Dangerous?
The obvious answer is, it’s harder to see at night! Different parts of the eye such as the iris, pupil, and retina do adjust. But depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision are less acute at night.
A big reason for night driving difficulty is oncoming headlights. The glare can be distracting. You get irritated, reducing your reaction time.
The other thing is, as we age it gets harder for us to see at night. A 50-year-old driver might need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old. At age 60 and older night driving is an even bigger problem.
Fatigue is also common driving at night. After all, people are tired after a day of work or recreation. The National Sleep Foundation says that 37% of adults have fallen asleep at the wheel. The NHTSA reports that 100,000 police-reported crashes are a result of driver fatigue.
Since it gets dark so early in the winter, evening rush hour becomes much more dangerous. People are anxious to get home from work. It’s harder to see. And it doesn’t take much speed to drive too fast for your headlights.
Impaired driving also causes accidents and usually happens at night. Drivers under the influence are most frequently on the road between midnight and 3 a.m. on weekends. According to the CDC, 29 people die daily in crashes involving impaired drivers. Which makes night driving all the more difficult when these drivers tend to be on the road.
Longer nights means more Darkness
Daylight savings time results in longer nights. This means more darkness, especially in the early evening. You should drive more slowly in the dark, taking more time to get to your destination. Remember that visibility is decreased, meaning other cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians are more difficult to see. Drive slowly, and remember that your response time is diminished when it is dark outside.
What should you do to combat darkness?
Aim your headlights correctly, and make sure they’re clean
Dim your dashboard
Look away from oncoming lights
If you wear glasses, make sure they’re anti-reflective
Clean the windshield to eliminate streaks
Slow down to compensate for limited visibility and reduced stopping time
Don’t drive too fast for your headlights. That means it’s too late to stop by the time you see something on the road. Slow down!
Don’t drive drowsy. Don’t drive drunk.
Do not text, phone, or play with the radio at night.
Compromised Night Vision
Night vision is the ability to see well in low-light conditions. As we age, we have greater difficulty seeing at night. A 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old. At age 60 and older, driving can become even more difficult, according to the American Optometric Association. Some older drivers also may have compromised vision due to cataracts and degenerative eye diseases.
Many people won’t drive at night. That’s smart. They know the glare is too much for them. Their eyes aren’t as sharp as they used to be. It’s just too dangerous.
But all of us face situations where night driving is necessary. So, when you do, slow down, be alert, and concentrate on what you’re doing. Stay safe during our beautiful fall season!
Shorter days, fatigue, compromised night vision, rush hour and impaired drivers are some of the risks we face when driving at night. These risks become especially pronounced moving into the weekend. Fatal crashes peaking on Saturday nights, according to NSC analysis of NHTSA data.
When Daylight Saving Time ends many people will find themselves spending more time driving in the dark. Depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision can be compromised.
Longer nights do not mean more sleep. A National Sleep Foundation poll says 60% of adults have driven while they were tired, and another 37%, or 103 million people, have fallen asleep at the wheel. Of those, 13% say they fall asleep while driving at least once a month, and 4% say they have caused a crash by falling asleep while driving. The reasons are many – shift work, lack of quality sleep, long work hours, sleep disorders – and it doesn’t only happen on lengthy trips.
These staggering numbers are backed up by a report by NHTSA that 100,000 police-reported crashes are a result of driver fatigue. Most crashes or near-misses happen at the times you would expect drivers to be tired: 4 to 6 a.m., midnight to 2 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m., according to NSF.
Drowsy driving puts everyone on the road at risk. Losing two hours of sleep has the same effect on driving as having three beers, and tired drivers are three times more likely to be in a car crash if they are fatigued.
The National Sleep Foundation offers this advice:
Get seven or more hours of sleep a night
Don’t drive if you’ve been awake for 16 hours or more
Stop every two hours to rest
Pull over and take a nap if you’re drowsy
Travel during times you are normally awake
Evening rush hour (between 4 and 7 p.m. weekdays) is a dangerous time to drive due to crowded roadways and drivers eager to get home after work. In winter, longer nights mean it’s dark during rush hour, compounding an already dangerous driving situation.
How can you make it home safely during rush hour?
Don’t be an impatient driver; slow down
Stay in your lane and beware of drivers who dart from lane to lane
Even though the route may be familiar, don’t go on autopilot; stay alert
In unfamiliar areas, consult a map before you go and memorize your route
Don’t touch your phone, eat, drink or do other things that are distracting
Nearly 30 people die every day in crashes that involve a driver impaired by alcohol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drivers impaired by prescription medicines and other drugs increase that number significantly. Impaired drivers are most frequently on the road after dark – particularly between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. on weekends.
While drunk driving has declined by about one-third since 2007, the number of drivers under the influence of drugs has increased. Between 2013 and 2014, 22% of drivers tested positive for a drug that would cause impairment, according to a roadside survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA also found that the prevalence of THC (found in marijuana) among drivers on weekend nights increased 48% since 2007, from 8.6% of drivers to 12.6%. Many states have not yet updated their impaired driving laws to address this growing problem.
With daylight savings time approaching, the longer the night gets. The days feel shorter. Many drivers will be making their morning commute in the dark. Condensation settles on the road heavier this time of year than most. If you are driving in the morning or evening, consider there may be more condensation on the roads than you can see. This makes fast stops and high speeds dangerous. Every year, drivers are injured and killed in car accidents that are the result of a driver not realizing slick conditions on the roadway. Slow down, give yourself more time to break, and remember that there’s more water on the road than you see, even if it is in the form of dew or fog.
Similar to dew, fog becomes a safety issue this time of year, especially in coastal cities and mountainous areas. Fog presents many safety hazards. It is a more obvious dangerous condition than dew, as drivers can readily see their visibility is impaired. Don’t use your bright beam headlights. It doesn’t help and it makes the situation even more dangerous for other drivers. Drive slower, put your normal lights on, and give yourself plenty of time to get to and from your destination. Keep your foot on the brake, as fog can be more dense in some areas and significantly decrease vision. TAvoid crashing your car in fog by taking it slow and proceeding cautiously.
Halloween is, of course, a time of great excitement and increased pedestrian traffic. It is not just the neighborhoods, either. Consider there are more people at the grocery store and shopping mall, and as happens during every holiday season, people preparing for holidays are often aloof and not paying attention. Auto versus pedestrian accidents often result in serious injury or death, as no person is a match for a moving automobile. Pedestrians bear responsibility too: if you are walking in areas that pedestrians share with cars, remember to keep your eyes up and stay off your cell phone. Drivers owe pedestrians a heightened level of care because they are driving heavy machinery that can be dangerous and deadly. Pedestrians too can help avoid accidents simply by paying attention and acknowledging they see drivers, and visa versa.
Halloween car accidents are twice as likely to involve auto versus pedestrians than any other day of the year. Tragically, Halloween is the day of the year when children are most likely to be killed or seriously injured by a car.
Many auto versus pedestrian injuries and deaths are the result in children ignoring normal traffic patterns and laws. Children are excited and run between houses, often crossing back and forth across the street. Not all drivers are paying attention, and some drivers are under the influence of alcohol. These abnormal conditions lead to many auto versus pedestrian injuries. Educate your children on the dangers of not paying attention, and instruct them to stay on the same side of the street as much as possible.
Children should be instructed not to approach any vehicles. Every year, there are disturbing incidents of child endangerment due to children approaching vehicles they are not familiar with.
INVOLVED IN A FALL WEATHER CAR ACCIDENT OR INJURY?
Longer nights mean more car accidents. For those unlucky enough to be injured in a car accident, or an auto versus pedestrian accident or slip and fall injury, the road to recovery can be challenging. Insurance companies are notoriously difficult to work with and even more difficult to get fair compensation for your losses. Speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney may be advisable. If your injury wasn’t your fault and you are wondering how you will pay for everything, a good injury law firm will be able to give you sound counsel regarding your options. . If you are wondering what to do and how you will recover, the attorneys at Essa, Janho, & Associates will be more than happy to give you a free case assessment, as well as recommend medical providers that may be willing to provide high-quality healthcare at no cost up front. Don’t let longer nights mean a lifetime a pain and suffering. Call our office today for a free consultation.