Own the Night: Top Tips for Safe Driving After Dark
With the days only getting shorter, now is the perfect time to learn safety tips for driving in the dark and for preventing momentary vision loss caused by oncoming headlights.
Cars with HID or LED headlights exasperate vision loss problems as increasing numbers of cars on the road have lights so intense they blind oncoming drivers.
To alleviate the stress and safety hazard of nighttime driving, use the following tips.
Regularly Clean Your Windows and Mirrors
The car's windows, the windshield, and the mirrors should be clean and streak-free. A slight smudge or streak in the daytime may seem like no biggie, but when it becomes dark, the grime reflects light. This reflection can cause distortions and glares, impacting a driver's ability to see clearly. To keep your windshield clean, ensure your windshield wiper fluid is topped up and that windshield wiper blades are clean and in good condition.
Dim the Inside of Your Car
The lights inside your vehicle impact your vision on the road. Lights can come from various sources, like the dashboard, instrument panel, GPS, cabin roof, or actual interior lights. Dim all the lights possible and put your GPS on night mode for the best road vision. This will allow your eyes to focus better on the light outside of the car.
Avoid Direct Eye Contact with Oncoming Headlights
When a car is directly approaching from the opposite lane at night, your best bet is to look at the traffic line on the white right lane marking on the road or straight ahead. Avoid looking directly at the approaching headlights because it can be hard for your eyes to adjust quickly from the dim surroundings to the bright lights.
According to Dr. Kevin Houston, a vision rehabilitation specialist at Massachusettes Eye and Ear, "Staring at bright lights can temporarily affect your visibility at night. As we age, it often becomes increasingly difficult to adjust from bright light to dim light."
Adjust Your Rearview Mirror
Rearview mirrors often have a night setting allowing you to flip it up. The setting dims the headlights in the back of your car and removes the glare from bright headlights. It's important to remember this setting, especially when the car behind you has its brights on, impacting your vision while driving. Don't forget to flip the night setting off after your night drive, so your car is safe to operate in the daytime.
Check Your Headlights
Make sure your headlights are in optimal condition before blaming other cars for your lack of vision. Dim headlights or ones that are burnt out or cloudy will impair your vision on the road. Get your headlights professionally cleaned to prevent fog. Headlight maintenance is particularly essential in the winter snow, salt, and road dirt often coat their surface.
Don't Purchase Night Driving Glasses
Beware of the yellow-tinted night driving glasses, which may do more harm than good. These glasses are advertised to improve contrast and reduce glare at night, but in reality, they may hurt your vision and not help it. According to Dr. Houston, there is a lack of evidence supporting these glasses, and they reduce the amount of light that enters the eye and may make it harder to see, not easier. He recommends wearing eyeglasses with an anti-reflective coating to prevent light from bouncing inside your lenses.
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