Summer is the season for vacations, weekend camping trips and other exciting adventures. One thing is for sure: if you’re taking a road trip this summer, you won’t be alone. Highways and interstates across New York fill with travelers and commuters during the day, so many people choose to travel at night. While it’s true that you’ll likely avoid high volumes of traffic by traveling at night, do not let this lure you into a false sense of security.
Driving after dark comes with its own unique risks and added dangers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the risk of being involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident nearly triples when you drive at night. If your summer travel plans involve nighttime driving, these simple precautions can help you arrive at your destination safe and sound.
Avoid drowsy driving
Driving at night means there’s an increased risk that you, or other drivers, will get sleepy or drowsy behind the wheel. Drowsy driving contributes to thousands of accidents every year across the country. Data from the NHTSA says that accidents caused by drowsy driving are most likely to occur between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m. If you get tired while driving, pull over in a safe area and rest, or just stop for the night.
To help with visibility, you should check your vehicle’s headlights and properly adjust them before taking to the road. Make sure to examine the angle of the headlight beams. If headlights tilt too high, the beams can blind other drivers. But if the headlights tilt too low, you won’t be able to see the road appropriately. It may be a good idea to take your vehicle to a dealer or repair center to get some professional assistance.
Watch for wildlife
Many different types of wildlife are more active at night during the summer months. Hitting a deer or bear can do major damage to vehicles and also cause injuries to motorists. Always be on the lookout for wildlife, especially if you’re traveling through a rural area. Using high beams can be very helpful.
Just slow down
Due to lower visibility and limited reaction time, speeding causes about 37% of nighttime-driving fatalities, according to the NHTSA. For example, your headlights usually shine about 160 feet in front of your vehicle, but just by driving at 40 mph, your vehicle will need 190 feet to stop. Reducing speed is one of the best ways to avoid an accident.
By traveling at night, you can avoid the traffic-related stress that often comes with driving during peak travel times. Although taking the proper precautions can make nighttime driving safer, not every driver will practice safe driving habits. If you are involved in an accident caused by another driver’s negligence, whether it be day or night, you can pursue damages through a personal injury lawsuit.