Why Is Night Driving Dangerous? How to Avoid It, and Ways to Make It Safer 

Car Insurance
April 8, 2024
The glare of headlights when driving at night.

Every headlight coming toward you could represent a drunk or high driver who’s distracted, texting, and has no idea you share the road with them. That’s not statistically likely, but you’re better off assuming it’s the case if you find yourself behind the wheel at night on a street or highway in Washington State. 

In this situation, it’s important to know you have a dependable auto insurance plan to cover your financial losses and grant you peace of mind — just in case! 

So why is night driving dangerous? Read on to learn more. 

The Hidden Dangers of Nighttime Driving 

Is driving at night more dangerous? Yes, it really is. Driving at night is more dangerous because reduced visibility restricts what you can see from your windshield, and your peripheral vision and color recognition are also affected. If you’re driving 60 miles per hour, even a few threats hidden in shadows can cause you big problems. 

The night vision challenge is compounded as you age and your overall vision quality decreases. The problems you experience even under normal lighting worsen when the sun sets. 

Potential Causes of Night Accidents 

Fatigue is a factor of concern. The evidence shows that drowsy driving heightens the risk of crashes, and one of the leading time slots for drowsy driving accidents is between midnight and 6 a.m. Your focus and reflexes and those of other drivers around you are weakened when you’re behind the wheel at a time when you might otherwise be sleeping. 

Nighttime is also the right time for partying. That’s why it makes sense to assume drivers coming toward you are impaired and exercise extra caution. 

If you’ve gone out celebrating the end of another work week, have a designated driver or take a rideshare to and from your favorite watering hole. 

An In-Depth Look at Driver Fitness and Alertness at Night 

Unless you work at night and are on a different cycle than most people, you get tired as the day winds down. 

According to the National Center of Biotechnology Information, a fatigued driver has double the risk of having an accident compared to a well-rested driver. Reflexes are slowed, and maintaining focus is hard when you’re tired. 

As for alcohol, even responsible consumption can slow reflexes by enough to be dangerous behind the wheel. Even with a legal 0.08% BAC (blood alcohol content) reading, you can lose valuable milliseconds of response time while driving. If you’re driving at high speeds, this can be particularly risky. 

A young woman smiling, driving at night.

The Role of Vehicle Roadworthiness and Adjustments 

Have you ever been in a situation where you see what you’re sure is a motorcycle coming toward you after dark, only to realize at the last moment that it’s a car running with one headlight? 

Vehicles with defective or unused headlights, taillights, directional lights, or brake lights can easily cause accidents at night. 

Don’t be the guilty party yourself. Periodically check your lights to make sure all your equipment is working properly. This is especially important before you take your car out for a late-night drive. 

Navigating Poor Visibility and Glare 

Your high-beam headlights can be your best friend or worst enemy. The good news is that they can increase night visibility to 500 feet. (It’s about half that much for your lower beams.) 

On the other hand, high beams can temporarily blind other drivers, so never use them when another car is approaching. And if you are the victim of inconsiderate high-beam users coming at you, look away from the lights to avoid the glare. 

Keep in mind that high beams only increase the glare during foggy nights because the fog bounces the light back to you. 

Proactive Measures for Safer Night Driving 

The only surefire way to stay safe driving in the dark is not to drive after dark. In other words, try to plan your days so you can run your errands while the sun is up. Take public transit at night and track when the sun sets. 

Granted, that’s not always practical. For instance, when Daylight Savings Time ends, it’s always dark … or it certainly seems that way. But the key is to be off the road when the sun goes down. 

Here are a few night driving safety tips for when that is not an option. 

  • Always wear your seat belt, regardless of the time of day. And make sure everyone else in your car is doing the same. Seat belts save lives
  • Drive just below the posted speed limit. This gives you a little more reaction time when you need it. 
  • Make sure your windshield is clean. You don’t need an easily avoidable threat to your visibility. 
  • Check your lights before leaving the house. Ensure all your beams are working when needed most. 
  • Get your vision checked regularly if you are over 50. As you age, your vision declines, making night driving more challenging. 
  • Make sure your auto insurance policy includes comprehensive and collision coverage. With this coverage, you’ll receive full benefits even if an accident was your fault. Contact an independent auto insurance agent to help you find the best coverage at the best rates — even if you have had an at-fault accident recently

Stay Safe and Insured with Affordable Insurance 

At Vern Fonk Insurance, our independent auto insurance agents can find you coverage that’s affordable and will keep you financially protected 24 hours a day. 

Call Vern Fonk Insurance at (800) 455-8276 or get a quick quote online. You can also find a Washington office and agent near you