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The Dangers of Nighttime Driving: Illuminating Statistics And Safety Tips To Prevent Accidents

Dec 27, 2023 | Personal Injury

With days getting shorter and nights getting longer, more of our driving is happening in the dark. Although nighttime driving is a necessity for a great number of us, it is also perilous and requires additional caution. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nighttime is the most dangerous time to drive. Being aware of the risks of driving at night and how to drive safely can help you avoid collisions! 

Statistics On Nighttime Driving

As anyone who has ever driven at night knows, it can be a challenge. You may have trouble seeing potential hazards, other drivers may not have their headlights on, and you may be tired from a long day.

Based on data collected by the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 43% of traffic fatalities in the United States occur between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Although daytime traffic congestion does contribute to a greater number of accidents, nighttime incidents are typically more severe and have a higher probability of resulting in fatalities.

In fact, night driving is nine times more lethal than daytime driving, considering the number of fatal accidents relative to traffic volume.

Key Findings

Car accident statistics show that the time of day and year affect the likelihood of a collision. Nighttime is far deadlier on the roads. Evening commutes become 30% more hazardous from September to November, primarily due to darker lighting conditions and the transition from daylight savings to standard time. Here are some of the key findings from the NHTSA:

  • 35% of all fatal accidents occur between 6:00 p.m. and midnight.
  • 41% were alcohol-related.
  • Speeding was a factor in 25% of nighttime fatal crashes.
  • 55% of nighttime fatalities were occupants of vehicles that rolled over.
  • 36% of nighttime fatalities were occupants of vehicles that left the road and hit a fixed object.

If you must drive at night, be sure to take extra precautions and drive safely.

Factors Increasing Your Risk Of Nighttime Car Accidents

​The statistics indicate that nighttime car accidents are more likely to be fatal than daytime car accidents. There are several factors that can increase your risk of a nighttime accident. Here are some of the most common:

  1. Visibility: One of the biggest contributing factors is visibility. It’s simply harder to see at night. When it is dark out, your eyes have to work harder to see the road and your surroundings. The glare of headlights from other vehicles and streetlights can also make it difficult to see. Another potential serious hazard, especially at dusk, is that many drivers simply forget to turn on their headlights making it difficult for other drivers to see them.
  2. Impaired Driving: About one-third of all traffic fatalities involve a driver impaired by alcohol. Drivers impaired by prescription medicines and other drugs increase that number significantly. Impaired drivers are most frequently on the road after dark, particularly between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. on weekends. If you see a car weaving or driving erratically, give them a wide berth, and don’t hesitate to call 911 if you think they may be drunk.
  3. Drowsiness: Driver fatigue is another significant factor in nighttime crashes. Many factors contribute to fatigued driving, such as shift work, long hours behind the wheel, sleep disorders, and bad sleeping habits. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) carried out a study revealing that driver fatigue accounts for an alarming rate of approximately 100,000 police-reported accidents annually.
  4. Animals: Other potential hazards include animals crossing the road. Many of these animals are nocturnal and more active at night, not to mention more difficult to see. Be on the lookout for animals, especially deer, who are known to dart out into the road without warning.
  5. Pedestrians and cyclists It’s more difficult to see pedestrians and cyclists at night. They may be wearing dark clothing or not have any reflectors or lights. If you are driving in a residential area or near a school zone, especially in the early morning hours, be extra cautious.
  6. Poorly lit roads: Many accidents occur on poorly lit roads. Just because a road is lit doesn’t mean it’s well-lit. If you can’t see the lines on the road, it’s more difficult to stay in your lane.

By following these safety tips, you can help ensure a safer nighttime driving experience for yourself and those around you.

Adjusting Your Drive: Best Practices For Nighttime Commuters

​Despite the risks associated with driving at night, many people fail to take extra safety precautions. Here are some tips to help keep yourself and others safe while driving at night:

1. Make sure your car is in good condition. Before driving at night, make sure your headlights, taillights, and brake lights are all working properly. You should also check your tires to see if they are properly inflated and have enough tread.

2. Slow down and increase your following distance. It can take up to twice as long to stop your car at night than it does during the day. So, it’s important to slow down and increase your following distance.

3. Be extra cautious at intersections. Intersections are especially dangerous at night because it’s harder to see other cars. When approaching an intersection, be sure to slow down and look carefully in all directions before proceeding.

4. Watch out for pedestrians. Pedestrians are harder to see at night, so it’s important to be extra vigilant for them. When driving in areas where pedestrians are likely to be, such as near schools or parks, be sure to slow down and look out for them.

5. Don’t drive while impaired. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is never a good idea, but it’s especially dangerous at night. Impaired drivers have slowed reaction times and poor judgment, which can lead to accidents.

6. Use your high beams wisely. High beams can help you see farther ahead, but you should use them sparingly so as not to blind oncoming traffic. When approaching another car, be sure to dim your headlights.

7. Take breaks if you’re tired. If you start to feel tired while driving, it’s important to take a break. Driving while tired can be just as dangerous as driving while impaired. If you can’t find a place to pull over and take a nap, consider switching drivers or taking public transportation instead.

Following these tips can help you stay safe on the road at night. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

The Importance Of Regular Vehicle Maintenance For Nighttime Drivers

There are many things you can do, as a driver, to reduce the risk of accidents. But one overlooked preventative measure is to perform regular vehicle maintenance to ensure your car is safe to drive at night. Before you head out on the road, consider these tips for improvingyour vehicle safety:

  1. Regularly clean your windshield, headlights and taillights. This will help you see – and be seen – more clearly.
  2. Maintain your battery. Night driving puts extra strain on your vehicle’s battery. A well-maintained battery will help ensure that your lights are bright and your engine is starting reliably.
  3. Check your tires. Tires are another crucial component of night driving safety. Properly inflated tires with good tread will help you maintain control on the road, especially in wet or icy conditions.
  4. Plan your route before you start driving. Also, if possible,  stick to well-lit, well-traveled roads. If you can, avoid driving late at night or in the early hours of the morning.
  5. Plan for emergencies: In case of an emergency, it’s important to have a roadside assistance plan in place. Be sure to keep your phone charged and with you while you’re driving, in case you need to call for help. It’s a good idea to have a roadside assistance plan through your insurance carrier or AAA, so you can get help if you need it.
  6. Maintain your vehicle: Finally, make sure your vehicle is in good working order before you hit the road. This means everything from regular oil changes to more significant repairs, like fixing a broken headlight. If your car breaks down on the road, you can place yourself and other drivers at risk.

Schedule A Free Consultation With Ted Machi & Associates Today!

We hope these tips will help keep you safe on the road, no matter what time of day it is. But if you ever find yourself involved in an accident, we can help you with your personal injury claim. Our lawyers have over 20 years of experience in personal injury law and a successful track record of helping our clients receive the compensation they deserve.  We offer our services on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t have to pay us unless we win. To learn more, call us today at Ted Machi & Associates to schedule a free consultation.

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