Driving at night is a dreadful and dangerous. Road fatalities triple during the night, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Human eyes don’t help much either. They’re terrible at seeing at night with depth perception, peripheral vision, and ability to distinguish color diminished. Although headlights illuminate the road, typical low beams stretch from 160 to 250 feet in front of your vehicle, while high beams shine about 350 to 500 feet ahead. When you’re driving at 60 mph, it takes more than 200 feet to stop, so there’s not much room for error.
So to traverse these dangerous and dark roads, here are 10 tips to keep in mind when driving after the sun goes down.
We’ve found that headlights even in brand-new cars are sometimes uneven or pointed lower than necessary. So it’s worth the effort to aim them correctly. If you do it yourself, use the instructions in your owner’s manual. And be patient. It may take a few tries before you have them pointed perfectly. Just make sure those newly aimed lights are not blinding oncoming traffic.
Even lights that are aimed correctly can cast a dim glow if something is blocking the light, so be sure to clean the road grime from your headlights often. If you have an older car with plastic lens covers, those covers might have yellowed or faded over the years. The best fix is to buy a headlight polish kit to remove the haze so your lights shine through brightly. And check that they produce the same amount of light as they did when new. Aged incandescent bulbs make less light than new ones.
Cars come with dashboard dimmer switches for a reason. With bright dashboard LEDs and large infotainment screens finding their way into vehicles, there are a lot of sources of unnecessary and distracting lighting inside a vehicle that can diminish your vision. Dimming dash lights can remove reflections on the windshield and allow your eyes to better adjust to the darkness ahead, improving nighttime visibility.
Other interior lights like map lights can also distract form nighttime driving, often casting light throughout the cabin. Not every car is a culprit when it comes to bright map lights—luxury cars do a good job with directing such lights—but it’s best to not use them at all.