A lot of people often question “What makes driving at night dangerous?”. Nighttime driving has long been known to be more dangerous than daytime driving. Research has repeatedly shown that more accidents occur at night. There are many reasons for this, but the bottom line is that drivers must use more caution when driving at night. Failure to do so can make a driver legally responsible (liable) for causing an accident. This means that he or she has an obligation to compensate all injury victims for all the losses they sustained in the accident.
The experienced car accident lawyers at Arash Law in California know how to protect victims’ rights. Car accident injuries can be devastating, and you have the legal right to be compensated for them. Let our car wreck lawyers protect your legal rights so that you can focus on making the best recovery possible. Schedule your free consultation by calling (888) 488-1391.
Nighttime Car Accident Statistics: ‘The Wrecks’ Come Out At Night
- Driving at night can be scary, according to The National Safety Council – the risk of a fatal crash is three times greater at night than in the day.
- The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analyzed all traffic fatalities during 2017 to identify the most deadly time of day. This was found to be 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. – right at the start of dark nighttime driving.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration analyzed seatbelt use in 2005 traffic fatality statistics. Interestingly, it was found that 64% of victims who were killed at night were not wearing a seatbelt, but only 47% of the victims killed during the day failed to use a seatbelt. Seatbelt use has long been known to reduce the severity of injuries sustained in a traffic accident. When a victim is not wearing a seatbelt, his or her injuries are more likely to be fatal.
- Like many states, California has adopted a Graduated Driver’s License program for teen drivers. One of the most common features of these programs is a prohibition on nighttime driving. Newer teen drivers are particularly susceptible to the risks of driving at night, and insurance data has consistently found an increase in teen driver accidents at night. California law prohibits teens from driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. (except for school).
8 of the Most Common Causes of Nighttime Car Accidents in California
1. Poorer Visibility at Night-Time
Drivers simply cannot see as well or as far at night as they can during the day. This effect is worse for drivers who suffer from visual impairments. The end of Daylight Savings Time will also contribute to poor visibility.
The night will be longer and start sooner, and all drivers will need to be extra careful during the extended period of poor visibility. Be prepared when Daylight Savings Time ends at 2 a.m. on Sunday, November 3rd.
Here are some tips to help improve your ability to see at night:
- Make sure your headlights are aimed correctly to give maximum visibility.
- Dim your dashboard and look away from oncoming lights to preserve your night vision.
- Keep your windshield clean to eliminate streaks and glare.
- Slow down to give yourself more time to see and react to hazards.
2. Night-Time Blindness is a Real Thing
Night blindness is an inability to see clearly in dim light. This can be caused by a deficiency of vitamin A or a retinal disorder. This makes nighttime driving even more dangerous. Symptoms include:
- Decreased vision at night or poor light
- Peripheral vision problems
- Possible loss of central vision
3. Age-Related Factors (Older & Younger)
As we age, our bodies slow down. This can produce many different effects that can be dangerous for driving. One important effect that elderly drivers must be aware of is vision. Aging can result in many different visual impairments – such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration – that are dangerous for drivers. The National Institute on Aging recommends:
- If you are 65 or older, see your eye doctor every year. Ask if there are ways to improve your eyesight.
- If you need glasses or contact lenses to see far away while driving, make sure your prescription is up-to-date and correct. Always wear them when you are driving.
- Cut back on or stop driving at night if you have trouble seeing in the dark. Try to avoid driving during sunrise and sunset, when the sun can be directly in your line of vision.
- The same applies for younger, or newer drivers who are in their teens and have little to no driving experience at all.
4. Fatigued Driving at Night
A survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that more than a third of adult drivers admitted to having fallen asleep behind the wheel. Fatigue can be a particular problem at night when the body is preparing for its usual sleep cycle. It is also a particular problem for those who work night shifts. Shift work interferes with the body’s normal sleep patterns, and this can impact workers for months – or even years. Many shift workers develop chronic illnesses as a result of extended sleep deprivation. The National Sleep Foundation found that shift workers were more likely to drive while fatigued, and almost twice as likely to fall asleep at the wheel.
Whether you’re driving a long distance or just commuting home from work, use these tips to avoid drowsy driving:
- Get a good night’s sleep before you hit the road.
- Take turns driving during long road trips.
- Take breaks to divide up long drives.
- Pull over safely and rest as needed.
- Keep an eye out for drivers who are swerving or drifting. Honk or flash your lights to alert them. If a driver does not pull off the road, give that vehicle plenty of space in the event that you need to stop quickly.
5. Impaired Drivers Are Out More at Night
Because drunk driving is more likely to occur at night, this makes night time driving more dangerous. The 2017 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows that drivers involved in fatal accidents at night were 3.6 times more likely to be impaired by alcohol than those involved in fatal accidents during the day. (This is consistent with data from other years.) However: alcohol is not the only substance that can impair drivers. Illegal drugs or misused prescription medications can make it unsafe to drive. Even a prescription medication that is taken as directed can impair your ability to drive safely. Always pay attention to the effects that any amount of alcohol or medication has on your body. Read the labels on medications carefully and avoid driving after taking anything that could cause impairment. Ask your doctor about potential drug interactions that could cause fatigue, dizziness, or other symptoms that would interfere with your driving abilities
6. Heavier Traffic at Night
The evening rush hour often hits shortly before or after the sun goes down (depending on the time of year). Heavy traffic is a risk factor for collisions. Combined with the added risk of nighttime driving, this can be a dangerous time for California drivers. Use caution with these driving tips:
- Reduce your speed.
- Don’t tailgate.
- Stay alert and use defensive driving techniques.
- Avoid being distracted by your phone, navigation system, in-vehicle entertainment system, or other technology.
7. Distracted Drivers Under The Protection of Night
Other drivers might not be as vigilant as you. Even though texting and driving is now illegal in California, some drivers still do it. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than three thousand deaths occurred on U.S. roads in 2017 due to distracted driving. Don’t become a statistic: stay vigilant at all times (but especially during nighttime driving). Avoid other drivers who are swerving or showing other signs of distracted driving.
8. More Active Construction Zones
Construction zones are hectic. There are large trucks entering and exiting, changes in traffic patterns, workers in the road, and new signs to read and follow. When added to the decreased visibility of nighttime driving, construction zones become particularly hazardous at night. The most important step you can take is to slow down. This will allow your eyes to adjust to low light and give you time to follow signs and figure out new traffic patterns. Watch carefully for any workers on the road.
12 Tips for Safer Driving at Night
With a combination of preparation and safe driving habits, you can reduce the risks associated with nighttime driving. Follow these tips to help keep everyone safe on the roads at night:
- Make sure your headlights and brake lights are in proper working order. Be sure headlights are clean.
- Aim your headlights correctly while driving.
- Start using headlights about an hour before the sun goes down. During dusk, the sky is still light, but the road begins to darken. This makes it difficult for other drivers to see you.
- Be careful using your high beams, so as not to blind other drivers.
- Dim your dashboard lights. Lights in the car can cause a nighttime glare on your windshield.
- Drive slower. Speed increases your required braking time. Combined with a longer reaction time at night, you are less likely to be able to avoid obstructions in the road if you are speeding. Speed also contributes to the severity of injuries – accidents are more likely to be fatal if one of the drivers was speeding.
- Allow for more space between you and the car ahead of you.
- You can avoid nighttime glare by using the day-night feature on your rearview mirror. Keeping your windshield clean will also help improve your visibility.
- Break up long drives with plenty of rest stops.
- Avoid drivers who are swerving or drifting.
- Know when to pull over for a rest.
- Limit distractions when driving at night. Since your vision is not as good as it is during the day, your reaction times will also be slower than normal. This makes it even more important to focus your attention on the road ahead.
Law Enforcement Prevention
Enforcing traffic laws is a critical step toward preventing dangerous driving behaviors. By writing tickets for speeding, following too closely, failing to wear a seatbelt, distracted driving, or driving while impaired, a police officer is deterring these dangerous habits in the future. Many law enforcement agencies target nighttime driving problems by increasing patrols during these hours (especially during holidays). Save yourself a ticket and prevent injuries by driving safely at night.
Experienced, Aggressive Injury Lawyers Near Me
Have you or a loved one been injured in an auto accident? The law entitles injury victims to car accident compensation. The car crash injury lawyers at Arash Law have won over $200 million for our clients. We fight hard to protect your legal right to be fully and fairly compensated for all the losses you suffer as the result of a car accident. Call (888) 488-1391 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with a California auto accident attorney.
Photo Credits: · Featured Image - Photo Courtesy of Burak K