If driver attentiveness is important during the day, it is even more so during the twilight and nighttime hours. Not only is your vision severely limited after dark, but your depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision become compromised the moment the light starts to fade. Add to this driver fatigue, and the dangers of driving after sundown increase exponentially.
A few things to keep in mind when you have to be on the road at twilight and into the night:
- Turn your headlights on early. During dusk and dawn, your eyes are constantly trying to adjust and readjust to the changing light making it difficult to focus on any one thing, particularly in the distance. This also applies to everyone else on the road. Even though you may not yet need the light, turning your headlights on during these hours alerts oncoming traffic to your presence.
- Slow-moving & stalled vehicles may not look it until it is too late. At night, you can’t see as far in the distance and your depth perception (your ability to perceive the distance of an object) has been weakened. By the time you see the taillights of a vehicle in front of you and then recognize it is slow or stopped it may be too late avoid some kind of accident. If something appears in your field of vision, turn the cruise control off and start slowing down until you can determine the object’s speed in relation to yours.
- Don’t overdrive your headlights. Though vehicle lights may be visible outside the beam of your headlights, there are plenty of things that will not be seen until your lights hit it. Wildlife, broken down vehicles, fallen limbs; all of these things could be waiting just on the other side of your high beams. Know your vehicle’s stopping distance and, regardless of the posted limit, adjust your speed at night to ensure that you will be able to stop inside the illuminated area.