Tips For Night Driving
The end of daylight savings is a harsh reminder that the days are getting shorter and soon many of us will be commuting to from work or school in the dark. Knowing how to safely navigate our way through those dark and dimly lit roads while we’re behind the wheel is
Even headlights that were once aimed properly can become unaligned. With the bouncing and jarring of daily driving, it’s not uncommon for them to lose their positioning. Poorly adjusted headlights can not only make it hard for your to see while driving in the rain, sleet or snow but it can also distort your vision of the road or blind oncoming drivers. Be sure to check your headlights are pointed in the right direction once a year to insure you’re getting the most out of their usage.
Clean It Up
Over the years, headlights can become dim and start to form a yellowish haze around them. Remove that glaze that hinders the light from shining brightly by giving those headlights a good scrubbing. By using a damp cloth and toothpaste, firmly begin rubbing in small circles until the film is removed. Once your headlights are clean, it’s time to give your windows the same kind of TLC.
Dim It Down
Bright lights from your dashboard can interfere with your night vision and cause unnecessary glares. Adjust the brightness of your dashboard with your vehicle’s dimmer switch to help avoid these issues and avoid using interior lights while you’re driving.
Headlights coming towards you aren’t the only ones to be concerned about when you’re behind the wheel. The glare of headlights behind you shining through the rearview mirror and side mirrors can also blind you momentarily. Adjust your rearview mirror by flipping your mirror up in older models or by flipping a small switch or lever on the bottom of your rearview mirror on newer models. Help avoid the same glare from happening with your side mirrors by angling them slightly down and by adjusting them so that you can almost see the outside of your vehicle but not quite.
Scanning ahead means keeping your eyes on the move for any hazards that may arise. This can include animals, other vehicles or pedestrians in the road like joggers, walkers or dog owners. Scan ahead to get the big picture instead of just focusing on the road ahead of you by rotating your view from in front of your vehicle, to your side mirrors, rearview mirrors and back again. Knowing what is coming at you earlier can help prevent a disaster and a way out if the worst case scenario does take place.
High Beam/Low Beam
There are a lot of dangers lurking in the dark and the less you can see, the less you can plan on how to deal with them. Use your high beam lights when driving at night in rural areas and on open highways without much traffic. Since high beams are so bright, be sure to switch them off and back to your low beams when another vehicle is approaching yours at approximately 150 meters away.
Chances are while you’re driving along at night in a rural area or on a highway, you may encounter another driver who is also using their high beams. While it’s important to switch yours off and to low beams, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll do the same. Whether the driver of the vehicle coming towards you is using their high beams or low beams, you should never stare directly at their highlights. Instead be sure to look down towards the right side of the road to avoid being blinded.
Slow It Down & Gain Some Distance
Two things that can help not only while driving at night but also during the daytime is reducing your speed and adding some distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Use your headlights to help gauge your distance from the car in front you. If you can’t stop in within the illuminated area, you’re following too close. Use the 3-second rule when traveling at speeds of 35mph or slower, adding a second for every 10 mph at faster speeds over 35mph. In order to do this, mentally mark when the vehicle ahead of you passes a fixed point along the side of the road such as a sign, tree or crossroad and start counting. There should be at least 3 seconds before your vehicle passes the same point.
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