As we age, it’s not uncommon to experience additional challenges when driving. Eyesight and hearing can change, reaction times may be slower, and driving an “all-nighter” becomes a thing of the past.
The good news is there are some tips to help you stay safer on the road at night:
Drive alert! Be aware of tired or impaired drivers.
Impaired drivers aren’t going to be on the lookout for you, so you’re going to need to be on the lookout for them. Watch for erratic drivers who tend to swerve onto the shoulder or across the median.
You should avoid these drivers where you can by slowing down to let them pass or by passing them. Put as much distance between you and these suspicious drivers as possible. If you truly fear that someone may be actually impaired while driving, make sure to call the authorities and explain your concern.
Avoid the Glazed-Over Stare. Keep Those Eyes Moving!
Eye fatigue is generally what happens when you end up staring blankly at the road as you drive. This often happens after long drives and at night when you’re feeling tired, in particular.
It’s important to avoid this glazed over stare as it can lead to an accident just. To do this, aim always to keep your eyes moving. Dart from object to object, as long as you keep your eyes on the road, and never linger longer than a few seconds on a single object.
Be in Control of Your Car’s Lights and the Lights You Use to Guide You
Because we naturally can’t see at night, lights are the way we get around. To be safe on the road while driving at night, it’s essential that you fully understand your own vehicle’s headlights and cabin lights and that you know which lights will guide you on the road as well.
For starters, make sure your headlights are clean and debris-free. If they’re too cloudy and cannot be cleaned at home, get them replaced. Keep your headlights on at all times as soon as the sun begins to go down, or the weather is inclement.
Inside your vehicle’s cabin, dim your dashboard lights and make sure to keep your cabin light off.
When looking at the road for light references to keep you inside the lines, focus on the fog line at the edge of the road, and use other light points of reference. For example, use other cars’ headlights and taillights, reflective sign surfaces, city lights, street lamps, and mile markers.
Be Creative in Order to Keep Yourself Awake
If you feel yourself nodding off while driving at night, be able to assess whether you need to stop or not quickly. If you’ve already felt yourself nodding off, you’re seeing things on the road, you’re swerving outside the lines, or your eyes seem to be closing involuntarily, it’s time to pull over or switch places with someone else in the car.
On the other hand, if you’re only slightly tired but you feel confident you can make it to your destination, you should still take several steps to keep yourself awake. Here are some recommendations:
- Snack on something
- Listen to loud music and sing along
- Open the window
- Do some simple, static stretches (roll your neck, stretch your fingers, etc.)
- Stop and get a drink or snack
Many people aren’t aware of the drastic difference in safety between day road travel and night road travel. Of course, it’s always important to take safety precautions while driving, but this is especially true at night. It’s up to you to stay alert and drive defensively. These tips can help.