Just before I got LASIK eye surgery a few years ago, I was informed that one place my newly improved peepers might not perform optimally was behind the wheel at night. And while it’s true that the procedure can create night vision distortions like light halos and glare, you don’t have to have surgically altered eyes to know that driving after dark can be an entirely different — and often dangerous — experience.
Indeed, fatal accidents are three times more likely to occur at night than during the day. That of course doesn’t mean you need to avoid the roads once the sun sets, but it does mean it’s extra important to take precautions at night to keep yourself, your passengers, and others on the road as safe as possible. As we transition into the shorter days of winter, keep these nighttime driving tips in mind:
Keep things clean. The dirt and smudges on your windshield may not make much of a difference in your daytime drives, but those smears can result in blinding glare if oncoming traffic illuminates them just right. Make sure your windshield is crystal clear before you embark on a nighttime journey.
Aim your headlights. Did you know you can adjust the aim of the headlights in most cars? Get to know how before you hit the road in the dark. Some cars have built-in bubble levels that help you align your headlights correctly, while others require some manual adjustment. A mechanic may be able to help you here.
Prioritize rest. 60% of adult drivers — that’s about 168 million people — say they’ve driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year, and more than a third have actually fallen asleep at the wheel. Those are some scary stats! In addition to a good night’s sleep, avoiding trips between midnight and 6 a.m. is the best way to avoid drowsy driving.
Make your view as clear as possible. While your night vision will never be as good as your daytime sight, there are some easy measures you can take to ensure you’re getting the clearest view possible and reducing any glare: dim your dashboard, look away from oncoming lights, and if you have to wear glasses to drive, make sure they’re anti-reflective.
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Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based freelance journalist, UC Berkeley alumna, and Metromile customer.