Concentrate on focusing your vision. In comparison to how our eyes operate during the day, at night our pupils become dilated and our vision becomes less keen, according to experts. Our eyes tend to see movements and lights rather than sharp details. Also, our eyes become tired and dry after being in use all day and our depth perception is thrown off by the darkness. Considering these factors, it is important to know how to adapt when operating a vehicle at night. Be sure you are getting your vision checked on a regular basis. The American Optometric Association suggests getting your eyes checked every two years if you are between the ages of 18 to 60 years old.
Lights in the night. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), misaligned headlights can be detrimental to your visibility as well as be a danger to your fellow motorists, so make sure those are properly adjusted. Interior lights can also affect your ability to adjust to darkness. When your dashboard lights are set to their brightest setting, they can distract your ability to focus, as they will unnecessarily stimulate your peripherals. Dim the interior lights so that you can read them in darkness, but they do not distract your eyes from the road ahead.
Keep it spick ‘n’ span. Check that your headlights, taillights, and turn signals are clean and clear. Also check that your mirrors are properly aligned and clear of smudges or grime. An old trick that ensures straight visibility through your vehicle’s glass is cleaning your windshield and windows with newspaper. This will help eliminate difficult streaks and smudges that can further impair your vision at night. Also, avoid touching both the inside and outside windows and glass surfaces in your car, as the oil from your skin will smear on the glass, and light that tries to shine through that area will appear blurry. Keep a cotton or microfiber cloth somewhere in your car to keep your field of vision crystal clear.
Be aware of your surroundings. When driving at night, it is important to be aware, know what to look for, and stay alert in your surrounding dark environment. For example, if you are driving along a wooded stretch of road, it could be home to forest animals like possums, deer, and raccoons. It is important to know what to look for to handle a potential danger safely. Before you even see the animal, you can spot the reflection of your headlights in the creature’s eyes, called a retinal reflection. Look for two small, glowing dots to indicate an animal close to or in the road. If you do encounter this situation, drive slowly and cautiously to avoid hitting the animal.
Focus on your own driving. When driving at night, bright lights can be very distracting. It is easy to get distracted by the headlights of oncoming traffic, but it is important to avoid doing this. Even if you suspect their brights are on or their lights are out of line, avert your eyes away from them, as this distraction can be fatal. If you are being blinded by the lights of traffic coming toward you, the NSC suggests looking toward the right edge of the road and drive steering along that path until your field of vision is clear again. If you suspect a vehicle behind you has their high beams on, adjust your rear view mirror to reflect the light back towards them to alert the driver.