A Guide on Safe Night Driving

Last Updated: 2/3/2022
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Driving at night poses a number of risks for those behind the wheel. Compromised vision, fatigue and impared or drunk drivers are just a few of the many hazards of nighttime driving. This is why being prepared and having the right car insurance are essential for any driver — whether new or experienced — who plans to drive at night. Knowing the risks and how to anticipate and avoid them can keep you safe while traveling on darkened roads and highways.

Common Challenges of Nighttime Driving

Nighttime driving can be a challenge for many, especially for inexperienced drivers, older adults and those with poor vision. Aside from compromised night vision, many daytime risks become more dangerous under the cover of darkness.

1

Reduced visibility

Driving at night compromises vision due to the glare of other headlights, different depth perception and your visibility being limited to only 500 feet in front of you.

2

Vision impairment

Adults 60 and older are said to have a more difficult time driving, which can be caused by cataracts or other degenerative eye diseases. Individuals who are also visually impaired even at a young age may have difficulty seeing in low-light conditions.

3

Distracted drivers

While distracted drivers are present during the day, they are even more dangerous at night. It’s easy to get complacent at night if you think you’re alone on the road, but anything that takes your hands off the wheel or eyes off the road is dangerous, even more so at night.

4

Fatigue

Drivers who drive while sleepy or fatigued are responsible for an annual average of 83,000 crashes between 2005 and 2009. Growing sleepy while driving can happen to anyone and is common amongst commercial drivers, graveyard shift workers, drivers with untreated sleep disorders or who take certain medications and those who don’t get enough sleep.

5

Drunk drivers

28 people die every day from drunk-driving crashes — that’s one person every 52 minutes. While driving under the influence has serious consequences, many continue to do it across the country. In fact, 62% of drunk driving-related deaths occur on the weekends.

6

Poor weather

Driving in the snow, rain or fog can make nighttime driving all the more dangerous. Not only will you have to contend with reduced visibility, but you’ll also have to deal with slippery roads which can easily lead to you losing control of the wheel.

An illustrative image of a man standing near a car and a board containing nighttime driving tips.

Staying Safe While Driving at Night

The National Safety Council reports that 50% of traffic-related deaths happen at night. While driving at night is sometimes inevitable, taking the necessary precautions to ensure your safety by enhancing your visibility and preparing for bad weather conditions is a must.

5 Night Driving Tips You Need to Know

Driving in the dark comes with certain risks and challenges not present during daytime driving. From increased chances of fatigue to the glaring lights of oncoming traffic, minimizing these risks by remaining proactive is essential. Below are a few tips to keep in mind when driving at night.

1

Drive slowly but surely

While it can be tempting to increase your speed at night because there’s less traffic, this can increase your chance of an accident. Drive slowly, keeping in mind the minimum and maximum speeds, and follow traffic laws even if there are no other cars around.

2

Avoid staring at oncoming lights

The glare of headlights from traffic on the other side of the road can make it difficult to see what’s ahead of you. Shift your eyes down and to the right and use the roadside markings as a guide until vehicles have passed.

3

Be alert

Make it a point to be hyper aware of yourself and your surroundings. Check in with yourself for signs of fatigue and be on the lookout for intoxicated or reckless drivers.

4

Take breaks when you need to

If you notice that you’re getting tired, pull over and take a break. This way, your mind and body can relax and allow you to be more alert once you start driving again.

5

Do not drive after drinking

Driving under the influence killed 10,500 people in 2018. Avoid driving under the influence or after you’ve had a few drinks. Ask a loved one to pick you up or take a taxi to ensure a sober driver gets you home safely.

5 Ways to See Better at Nighttime

Navigating the roads at night can be difficult for any driver, especially those with poor vision, such as the elderly. Driving with visual impairments, such as poor depth perception or myopia, is not recommended for nighttime driving. This is because you will only get to see up to 500 feet in front of you with high-beam headlights on. The glare of oncoming headlights and poor street lamps can also limit what you see. All this can make it dangerous not just for yourself as a driver, but for those around you, such as pedestrians or cyclists.

1

Dim your dashboard

Your instrument panel and dashboard lights can be distracting, which is why it’s better to keep them dim. This also removes reflections on your windows and windshield, which can help you adjust your eyes to the darkness on the road.

2

Wear the correct glasses

If you require glasses, make sure you have a pair that is suited for night driving. Opt for eyeglasses with anti-reflective coating to prevent light from bouncing around your lenses.

3

Use your high beams

Don’t forget to use your high beams at night, especially when you’re struggling to see the road in front of you, as it can help improve your visibility. However, when you’re behind another vehicle or in fog, rain or snow, remember to switch to low beams. Depending on the weather conditions in your area, you can also opt for fog lights.

4

Align your headlights

It’s normal for your headlights to become misaligned over time. While you can have this done at the shop, you can also do it yourself by following your car’s owner’s manual.

5

Ensure your windshield is clean

A dirty windshield can prevent you from seeing properly. Prior to driving at night, make sure to clean your windshield and windows and ensure there are no bugs, dirt or grease on the glass.

Safety Driving Tips for Bad Weather Condition

Bad weather and nighttime driving are a deadly combination. In 2019 alone, the NHTSA reports that there were 440 fatal crashes and 33,000 injury crashes caused by winter conditions. Therefore, practicing safe driving techniques in winter and any heavy weather conditions, such as snow, rain, floods, wind or fog, is essential.

  • Weather Condition
    Tips
  • Snow or Ice
    The winter season can cause slippery roads. Prepare for driving in the winter by reassessing your car’s condition. Look at the brakes, heater, lights and battery and make sure they’re functioning properly. You should also ensure your windshield wiper reservoir is topped up and maintained throughout the winter season.
  • Rain
    Rain can cause slick roads, which makes it harder to control your vehicle. Drive slowly and keep a safe distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you to avoid spin outs or collisions.
  • Floods
    Heavy rains can sometimes lead to floods. Don’t underestimate the power of rushing water. Flood deaths are most commonly caused by vehicles entering floodwater.
  • Fog
    Dense fog while driving at night can impair your vision even further and is considered one of the most dangerous conditions to drive in. If you live in an area frequented by fog, make sure to install fog lights. Use the white line on the right side of the road to guide you when driving and always maintain a safe distance between you and other cars.

Nighttime Driving Restrictions Among Teens and New Drivers

Teenagers and new drivers are at a higher risk of getting into an accident given their inexperience on the road. In fact, young drivers 16- to 19-years-old are nearly three times more likely than older drivers to be involved in a fatal crash, with 31% of accidents happening between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.

Because of the likelihood of accidents, some states have restrictions on the time that teen drivers can be on the road. For instance, in Alabama, 16- and 17-year-old drivers cannot drive between midnight and 6 a.m., with some exceptions. This is to ensure that a teen driver is safe while driving and reduces the risk of accidents at night.

Navigating Health Insurance for Vision Coverage

Regularly ensuring that you have good eye health is an important way to keep yourself safe behind the wheel. After all, poor vision is one of the most common problems when driving at night, which is why it’s important you check your vision routinely and are aware of any vision impairments or driving considerations.

However, vision care can be expensive. The average cost of an eye exam can stand around $100 to $200, depending on your provider. This is why it may be best to get vision insurance, which can help you pay for your regular visits and anything else you might need.

Fortunately, some health insurance policies give you the option to add vision coverage. Even better, certain student health insurance policies have an optional vision plan that gives you savings or reimbursements for exams, glasses, contacts and more.

tip icon
CHOOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE WISELY

Health insurance is useful in reducing your medical costs, which is why choosing the right type for your needs is essential. Compare networks and costs on what the benefits offer you and know what you can anticipate paying out-of-pocket.

An illustrative image of a woman and documents of car insurance policy.

How Nighttime Driving & Accidents Affect Your Car Insurance

When driving at night, it can be easier to speed and be complacent with the law, especially if there are few cars on the road. However, reckless driving behaviors can lead to accidents and ultimately, that can affect the cost of your car insurance.

As car insurance is legally required in most states, you will want to avoid doing anything that can increase your premiums. Your driving and insurance history are one of the many factors that insurers look at when determining your premiums. This is why it’s important to practice safe and defensive driving at all times.

How to Avoid an Increase of Your Premium

If you’re a safe driver and want to reduce the cost of your auto insurance, keep in mind the following tips:

1

Shop around and compare quotes

Get quotes from different providers to find the cheapest one — don’t just opt for the first choice you have in mind. This way, you can also look for the coverages and costs that suit your needs best.

2

Ask about discounts

Insurers offer discounts for a variety of things. For instance, taking a safe driving course, having anti-theft systems installed and using your seatbelt regularly can get you a discount. Discounts can be given even if you have an accident on your record.

3

Adjust your deductible

Your deductible, which is what you’re responsible for out-of-pocket, covers an accident and can affect the cost of your premium. The higher the deductible, the lower your monthly cost.

4

Maintain good credit

Depending on the state, some insurers use your credit score as a means to determine your premium. By maintaining good credit, you can ensure your premiums remain low.

5

Get accident forgiveness

If you’re a safe driver but live in an area prone to bad weather, it may be a good idea to get accident forgiveness coverage. This ensures that your first accident will not cause your premiums to increase.

Expert Insight On Driving At Night

Driving at night can be dangerous for seasoned and inexperienced drivers, which is why it’s important to take precautions to ensure your safety. Below are some insights from experts in the field to help you stay safe during nighttime travel.

  1. What advice would you give to a new driver to help them navigate the roads safely at night?
  2. What extra precautions can drivers take outside of driving to ensure their nighttime drives are safe? (i.e., certain auto insurance coverage or car upgrades)
Philip Westfall
Philip Westfall

Director of Marketing at RVezy

Zach Wimpey
Zach Wimpey

Operations Manager at Craig and Landreth Cars

Cody Crawford
Cody Crawford

Co-Founder at Low Offset

Resources for Driving At Night

Ensuring your safety while driving at night is essential. The following resources can help you learn more about common nighttime driving statistics, how to stay alert while driving and tips for driving in the dark.

  • Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: The CHP gives insights into nighttime driving statistics for teens and a few actionable tips on how to ensure a safe drive.
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Driving while drowsy can be deadly, but it is preventable. This resource from the NHTSA grants insights and several resources to eliminate drowsy driving.
  • National Institute of Aging: Older drivers may have difficulty navigating the road, but it isn’t impossible so long as you take certain precautions. The NIA provides actionable tips for older drivers with stiff joints, those who have trouble seeing, hearing and more.
  • Piedmont: Ensuring healthy eye vision is important not just for your daily life, but also for when you drive at night. Piedmont provides a few practical ways to improve your vision at night.
  • University of Rochester Medical Center: This useful resource from URMC gives advice on how to stay awake behind the wheel, as it can be easy to get drowsy while driving at night.

About the Author


expert-profile

Nathan Paulus is the director of content marketing at MoneyGeek. Nathan has been creating content for nearly 10 years and is particularly engaged in personal finance, investing, and property management. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of St. Thomas Houston.


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