Driving at night raises the risk for car accidents significantly because of reduced visibility, driver fatigue, and increased drug and alcohol use. Although driving during the nighttime hours typically means less traffic, over 40 percent of all road fatalities occur after the sun goes down. The risk of a traffic accident that causes a fatality is three times higher for both drivers and passengers after dark. Drivers, passengers and pedestrians need to familiarize themselves with the risks of traveling at night to reduce their chances of experiencing an after-dark crash.
After-Dark Vision a Contributing Factor
According to the National Institutes of Health, compromised night vision is one of the reasons it is riskier to drive at night. Depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision are often compromised in the dark. This problem gets worse with age, as older adults need twice as much light to see well as young adults. Additionally the glare of headlights from an oncoming vehicle can temporarily blind a driver. Poor visibility makes it harder to react to other cars, animals or pedestrians on the road, increasing an individual’s chances of suffering a serious crash.
Fatigue Raises the Risk
After dark, drivers are more likely to be fatigued than they are during the day. About 60 percent of adults admit to driving while tired, and 13 percent indicate that they regularly fall asleep while driving. Driving while tired increases the risk of a serious accident. Losing just two hours of sleep can cause a driver the same amount of impairment as three beers.
Drivers Must Take Precautions
Those who drive after dark need to be aware of the hazards and take the necessary precautions to lessen their risk. This means having fewer distractions while on the road. Keeping up with regular vision exams will also help. Drivers who are taking prescriptions need to check the risk of their drugs. Those who feel they are too unsafe to drive after dark should limit driving to daytime hours. Finally, not driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs is an important protection for all drivers. By taking the necessary precautions, drivers can prevent the risk of an after-dark crash.