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How can you stay safe while driving at night?

Daylight Saving Time ended earlier this month, which means it is getting darker sooner. Driving on Pennsylvania roads at night is the most hazardous time to drive, and you might find yourself spending more time driving at night. The National Safety Council says fatigue, shorter days, compromised night vision and various other factors increase the risk of fatal car accidents at night to three times the daytime risk.

Most drivers require time to adjust to the circumstances, and you might find that the darkness compromises your peripheral vision, color recognition and depth perception. Furthermore, oncoming vehicles' glaring headlights might blind you temporarily.

Be alert to stay alive

Although most drivers spend only one-quarter of their driving time in the dark, safety authorities say half of all road accident deaths occur at night. You can take some precautions that might keep you safe on Pennsylvania roadways.

Basic precautions

Even with your vehicle's headlights on high beam, you will only be able to see about 500 feet ahead, leaving you limited time to react. You can combat the hazards of darkness by taking the following steps:

  • Make sure the aim of your headlights is correct and that the lenses are clean.
  • Remove streaks from the windshield.
  • Avoid looking directly into oncoming lights.
  • Dim the dashboard lights.
  • Wear spectacles with anti-reflective lenses.
  • Avoid speeding because of limited stopping time.

Rush hour will compound dangers

Roadways are typically crowded on weekdays between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. with commuters rushing to get home. Do the following to avoid accidents during rush hour:

  • Try to be patient and slow down.
  • Stay alert even if the route is familiar.
  • Look out for drivers who dart in and out of lanes.
  • Avoid distractions by your phone and do not eat or drink beverages while driving.
  • If you are on an unfamiliar route, memorize the directions in advance.

Do you have compromised night vision?

If you are an older driver, you might have trouble seeing well at night. The American Optometric Association recommend the following:

  • Limit driving after dark if possible.
  • Reduce speed and avoid distractions.
  • Go for annual vision exams and wear the necessary glasses.
  • Learn about the side effects of over-the-counter or prescription drugs that might cause impaired vision or drowsiness.

The dangers of fatigued driving

Fatigue causes drowsiness, and safety authorities say sleep deprivation has the same effect as alcohol impairment on drivers. The following is advice by the National Sleep Foundation:

  • Whenever possible, drive during the hours when you are usually awake.
  • Make sure you sleep for at least seven hours at night.
  • Avoid driving if you have not had any sleep for more than 16 hours.
  • Stop to take a short break after every two hours of driving.
  • Pull over in a safe spot to take a nap when you feel drowsy.

In the event of an accident

Accidents have a way of happening when least expected. While you take all the necessary precautions to get to your destination safely, the negligence of another driver might cause a crash that sends you to the hospital. If you want to pursue financial relief to cover your medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering, you should utilize the services of an experienced Pennsylvania personal injury attorney. A lawyer can provide the necessary support and guidance throughout the legal proceedings.

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