It’s fall right now as I’m writing this; the nights are getting longer and darkness falls sooner—especially with daylight savings time having gone into action just a couple weeks ago. With even darker and longer nights on their way, I want to explore safety tips about driving at night. For most of us, our commutes and hours don’t change according to an earlier sunset, so we’re left driving in the dark more and more frequently.

Driving at night can be much more than a nuisance; it can be deadly. Even if you consider yourself a seasoned driver, these reminders can’t hurt, but they definitely could save a life.

Don’t Drive Sleepy

Yes it sounds silly, but we need to enforce this in ourselves as well as in our loved ones. When you’re tired, your judgement, vision, and reaction time can be as bad as when intoxicated. It is very dangerous; if you wouldn’t drive drunk, don’t drive sleepy. If you’re driving along and you start feeling tired, pull over. Get out and take a walk or just take a nap in your car. Wherever you’re going can wait.

Check. Check. Check.

Always double check and triple check these basics:

  • Turn on your headlights. Make sure they are adjusted properly.
  • Use low beams when driving behind another car.
  • Don’t smoke while in the car. Smoke clouds your vision, which is already limited in the dark.
  • Wear your seat belt.
  • Keep your headlights and windshield clean.
  • Reduce speed and increase your following distance.
  • Don’t drink and drive.

Stay Alert for Animals

It can be traumatizing to hit an animal on the road, especially if it’s a larger animal like a deer. It can happen rather easily in the dark because they are difficult to see, and they often dash out into the road unexpectedly. Take note that you will see their retinas before you see their bodies, so if you notice a pair of shiny dots floating in the distance, slow down. And yes, always slow down as much as you can. You can’t always swerve around them, since they may try to follow your headlights and move in front of you while you swerve. Hitting animals can seriously damage your car and your person—as can any impact. Be alert and cautious when driving at night; you never know what might pop up.

Look Away From the Light

These days more and more cars come with brighter and flashier lights, and some people even like to change out their headlights for curious (typically blue or green) colored lights. When you stare into bright headlights on a dark road, it not only hurts but also causes your eyes to readjust once the car has passed. This puts a damper on your vision for that period of time. Avoid this by adjusting your line of sight a little bit towards to the right edge of the road.

Stay safe when driving at night. Share this with your friends and family to keep our communities’ streets safer.