Feel less than confident driving at night? These tips will help improve your visibility and safety if you’re hitting the road in low-light conditions.
Set Up Your Car For Nighttime Driving
By making sure your car is set up for driving at night, you can drastically improve your ability to see and respond to hazards before it’s too late.
- Check mirrors. Take time to polish your exterior mirrors regularly, especially if you’re driving at night–and adjust them to angle down a hair lower than you typically would. You’ll still be able to see everything you need by tilting your head a bit, but you won’t be blinded by the lights of the cars behind you. Also, take the time to polish your interior rear-view mirror, and make sure to flip it to the “dim” setting to reduce glare when driving at night.
- Give headlights a tune-up. Older incandescent bulbs don’t put off as much light as new ones, so if it’s been a few years or you just don’t have the visibility you’d like, it might be time to replace them. It’s also important to clean the road grime off of your headlight lenses so there’s nothing keeping the full force of the light from hitting the road. If your headlight’s lenses appear hazy or fogged, invest in a polishing kit from an auto parts store to buff away the micro-scratches and restore a crystal-clear shine. Also take the time to adjust your headlights while you’re at it.
- Dim your dash lights. Dashboard lights are made to be dimmable so they don’t blind you or distract you when driving in particularly low-light conditions. Don’t hesitate to dim them until they’re just easily visible; that way you’ll be able to focus more effectively on hazards outside the car.
Get Yourself Ready To Drive Effectively at Night
Making sure your car is set up for night driving is just one step; you have to make sure you’re set up for nighttime driving, as well!
- Don’t drive sleepy. If you’ve been awake for more than 16 hours, take a nap before you hit the road. If you’re feeling the early signs of fatigue, take the time to eat a balanced meal or snack, stay hydrated, and remain aware of your mental state while driving. When in doubt, call a friend or a cab. Driving sleep-deprived isn’t much better than driving under the influence. It’s not worth the risk.
- Get your eyes checked. If you haven’t had an eye exam in the last year, it’s time. If you wear glasses, invest in an anti-reflective coating to help reduce glare when driving in low-light conditions. For many older adults, especially those over the age of 60, difficulty seeing in low light becomes a bigger problem; talk to your optometrist about your options, and if you don’t feel comfortable driving at night, don’t do it.
- Eliminate distractions. It’s never a good idea to look at your phone while driving. And it’s even more dangerous at night when your margin for error goes down and your response times need to be faster. Turn your phone on Do Not Disturb or airplane mode when you’re driving, or put it in the back seat to cut down on the temptation to glance at your texts or email. Don’t eat while you’re driving, either. Listening to a good audiobook, podcast, or upbeat music is a great way to keep your brain engaged while driving–without distracting your eyes from the road.