Dangers of Night Driving

Honda Civic

A Highway Angel

It was about 2:30AM, April 26, 2014. Boyd Miles, 42, was a team driver with his cousin Christopher Crandall, 23, when their truck broke down on  I-15 outside of Lehi, Utah. The two men were standing on the passenger side of truck between the truck and the jersey barriers when a Honda Civic driven by James Warren, 27, of Lehi drifted off the side of the road. The driver of the Civic had fallen asleep. Crandall recalls someone yelling “Watch out!,” before waking up paralyzed from waist down. It was Miles who had yelled and attempted to push his cousin out of the way, but was fatally stuck. Miles was survived by his wife and young daughter. For his actions, Miles was recently named a “Highway Angel” by the Truckload Carriers Association.

Facts about Night Driving

(1.) Accident-related death rates are 3 times greater at night, and driving after dark can increase the risk of crashing. Some of the worst crashes occur at night.

(2.) Driving at night can be dangerous:

  • Decreased visibility: it’s harder to see people, motorcycles, signs, etc.
  • Decreased depth perception to see oncoming vehicles or to judge distances.
  • Older drivers need more light; some drivers are afflicted with night blindness (nyctalopia).
  • At night there is more construction activity during the week and more drunk drivers on the weekend. Weekend nights are the most likely part of the week for fatal accidents, according to the National Safety Council.
  • Cyclists are difficult to spot, as their lights are not as powerful as cars. It can also be more difficult to spot the single headlight of a motorcyclist at night if they are around cars.
  • Hazards often seem to appear out of nowhere.

Night Driving Tips

(1) See and be Seen

  •  Keep your windshield clean and carry extra windshield wash.
  • Clean  your headlights, brake lights, and turn signals and make sure all lights are in proper working order.
  • Turn your lights on earlier rather than later. Put your headlights on about an hour before the sun goes down.
  • Don’t “overdrive” your headlights; be able to stop within the distance you can see to be clear.

(2) Avoid Nighttime Glare

  • Don’t look at oncoming headlights. Instead focus on the right side of the road near the white lines.
  • Dim your interior lights to avoid glare.

(3) Drive defensively

  • Signal your intentions clearly.
  • Expect the unexpected from drivers around you.
  • Slow down and increase your following distance.
  • Pay extra attention to your surroundings.

(4) Plan the trip in advance

Truck struck at night.

This driver of this truck said he was lost before his truck was struck by a train.

  • Share the driving, if possible, with another, well-rested driver.
(5) Prevent Underride
Generally underride accidents (where a car goes under a trailer) occur at night and represent one quarter of the fatalities from truck-involved collisions. Factors contributing to underride include:
  • Inoperative or dirty lights on the trailer’s side,
  • Bright lights and/or bright sign-boards from a fuel station or truck stop near the side of the road.
  • A very slow-moving CMV or truck,
  • A truck making a left turn or backing across traffic.
Factors that can contribute to rear under-ride include:
  • Inoperative, dirty, or dim taillights,
  • Taillights placed very close together,
  • Failure to properly use reflective triangles when parked or broken down on or near the road, and
  • Failure to use emergency flashers when entering or exiting the highway at slow speeds. (Source: Dr. John C. Glennon)

Thank you for reading this. Drive friendly. 

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