Driver Fatigue: Nighttime Driving
Driving home after work can be risky for the shift worker, particularly since they have been awake all night. For the evening worker, coming home around midnight increases the risk of meeting drunk drivers. Alcohol is a leading factor in fatal traffic crashes, playing a part in about half of all motor vehicle-related deaths.
People think that opening car windows or listening to the radio will keep them awake; however, studies show that these methods do not work. In fact, these actions should be a red flag that fatigue has set in, and you need to pull over immediately. If you are sleepy when your shift is over, try to take a nap before driving home. Remember, sleep can quickly overcome you.
Why is Night Driving So Dangerous?
One obvious answer is darkness. Ninety percent of a driver’s reaction depends on vision, and vision is severely limited at night. Depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision are compromised after sundown. Older drivers have even greater difficulties seeing at night. A 50-year old driver may need twice as much light to see as a 30-year old.
Another factor adding danger to night driving is fatigue. Drowsiness makes driving more difficult by dulling concentration and slowing reaction time.
Follow These Steps To Arrive Home Safely:
- Carpool, if possible. Have the most alert person do the driving.
- If you are sleepy, stop to nap, but do so in your locked car in a well-lit area.
- Take public transportation, if possible.
- Drive defensively.
- Don’t stop off for a “night cap.”
Prepare your Car for Night Driving
Fortunately, you can take several effective measures to minimize these after-dark dangers by preparing your car and following special guidelines while you drive. The National Safety Council recommends these steps:
- Keep headlights, tail lights, signal lights and windows (inside and out) clean.
- Have your headlights properly aimed. Mis-aimed headlights blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.
- Eat strategically by having protein-rich food, which encourages alertness.
- Avoid smoking and driving as smoke’s nicotine and carbon monoxide hamper night vision.
- If there is any doubt, turn your headlights on so that others can see you.
- Reduce speed and increase your following distances.
- Don’t overdrive your headlights. You should be able to stop inside the illuminated area. If you cannot, you are creating a blind crash area in front of your vehicle.
- When following another vehicle, keep your headlights on low beams so you do not blind the driver ahead of you.
Many of us are unaware of night driving’s special hazards or don’t know effective ways to deal with them. Following these simple safety tips can help save a life.