The way the world works means that darkness is a part of our American lives. Though it comes every day and its presence is routine, it is still a challenge for motorists who must drive during the dark hours. Roadways and cars are designed for nighttime travel but it poses some unique risks that drivers should acknowledge prior to their travels to remain as safe as possible.
If your daily life requires you to drive in the early morning hours or late at night, make sure you understand the issues that can arise in the dark and keep these following tips in mind:
- Check Your Eyes: Vision is critically important at all times while driving but the ability to discern shapes and understand contrast plays a larger role when it is dark outside. If you will drive at night, make sure you see as well as possible by having your eyes examined annually by a professional. If you need to wear contacts or glasses, always wear them while driving – even if you plan on a short trip. Also, if you wear glasses, make sure you choose lenses with an anti-reflective coating so that you can see as well as possible at night.
- Point Your Headlights: One of the biggest safety features that cars have for nighttime driving is a vehicle’s headlights. Most people think that their headlights are a non-maintenance part of their vehicle, and though that can be correct, it is not always the case. Often, headlights are not appropriately pointed or adjusted and that means that they are not illuminating the road as well as they could be. Typical headlights on a low setting illuminate between 160 and 250 feet in front of a car and bright lights or high beams illuminate 350 to 500 feet. These distances are not great if you are traveling at a high rate of speed and are forced to stop suddenly, so make sure your headlights are pointed in an ideal setting so that you get every extra foot of illumination you can.
- Avoid Staring at Oncoming Lights: If you are driving and opposing traffic is near, it can be tempting to look at the headlights of other cars. The light naturally catches a motorist’s attention and looking at it for even a moment is very natural, but it should be avoided whenever possible. Taking a second to look at a bright light will narrow your eye’s pupils, restricting the amount of light they let into your eye. Then taking your eyes away from the light and placing them back on the dark roadway will leave you with a moment or two where your eyes are not ready to see the dark as your pupil adjust and enlarge again. This transitionary period will make it more likely that you will miss hazards in the roadway or nearby and will make a car accident more probable than it otherwise would be.
- Dim Your Dashboard: A vehicle’s dashboard typically illuminates when the headlights are turned on so that a driver can see the controls when it is dark outside. But having your control panel as bright as possible may not be a great idea as the bright lights inside your car can limit your ability to see forward out of your windshield. Direct your attention to where it matters most by dimming your dash lights and instead watching the traffic in front of your vehicle.
- Watch for Animals: Though Phoenix is not known for some of the wild animals that plague drivers in other parts of the country, we still get our fair share of animal strikes each year and many of those happen at night. Train yourself to expect animals near a roadway at any time and keep your eyes scanning the area around a road as you drive. Often, you can notice an animal from the glare that reflects off their eyes when a headlight or other light falls upon them, making these critters easy to spot and, ideally, to avoid.
Some car crashes that happen at night cannot be avoided and are considered nothing more than bad luck. But the majority of nighttime collisions in Arizona occur because of negligence on the part of a driver who was distracted, tired, or otherwise not acting in a safe manner. If you were involved in a crash that happened at night and you were hurt, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your damages.
The personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. offer a case consultation without cost or obligation to all those victims who call us toll free at (855) PHX-LAWYER or locally at (602) 819-5191. We understanding that you may need help outside of normal business hours so we have a lawyer standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to speak with you and to talk about your legal options. If we represent you in your case, we will never charge you a fee unless we make a recovery on your behalf and we will advance all costs related to your claim so please do not hesitate to call us today.
Prior Blog Entry:
Loop 202 Will Have Closures This Weekend, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published February 13, 2016.