Fall Brings Shorter Days and More Dangerous Night Driving

September 21, 2021

night driving dangersToday is the first day of fall! The most colorful time of the year for the Mohawk Valley. A time where days get shorter and night starts sooner. And night starts even earlier with daylight savings time on Sunday, November 7. (Hard to believe it’s still light out in June at 9:00 PM!)

The thing is with longer nights, there’s increased danger on the roads. Close to half (49%) of passenger vehicle occupant fatalities occur during nighttime. Yet, only 25 percent of travel occurs during hours of darkness. That makes the fatality rate per vehicle mile driven three times higher at night than it is during the day.

Why Is Night Driving Dangerous?

  • The obvious answer is, it’s harder to see at night! Different parts of the eye such as the iris, pupil, and retina do adjust. But depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision are less acute at night.
  • A big reason for night driving difficulty is oncoming headlights. The glare can be distracting. You get irritated, reducing your reaction time.
  • The other thing is, as we age it gets harder for us to see at night. A 50-year-old driver might need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old. At age 60 and older night driving is an even bigger problem.
  • Fatigue is also common driving at night. After all, people are tired after a day of work or recreation. The National Sleep Foundation says that 37% of adults have fallen asleep at the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 100,000 police-reported crashes are a result of driver fatigue.
  • Since it gets dark so early in the winter, evening rush hour becomes much more dangerous. People are anxious to get home from work. It’s harder to see. And it doesn’t take much speed to drive too fast for your headlights.
  • Impaired driving also causes accidents and usually happens at night. Drivers under the influence are most frequently on the road between midnight and 3 a.m. on weekends. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 people die every day in motor vehicle crashes involving an impaired driver. Which makes night driving all the more difficult when these drivers tend to be on the road.

How to Be Safer Driving at Night

  • Dim your dashboard. This is so that it doesn’t conflict with the light you need to see the road.
  • Aim your headlights correctly and make sure they’re clean.
  • Look away from oncoming lights.
  • Wear anti-reflective glasses.
  • Clean the windshield to eliminate streaks.
  • Don’t drive too fast for your headlights. That means it’s too late to stop by the time you see something in the road. Slow down!
  • Don’t drive drowsy. Don’t drive drunk.
  • Do not text, phone, or play with the radio at night.

Many people won’t drive at night. That’s smart. They know the glare is too much for them. Their eyes aren’t as sharp as they used to be. It’s just too dangerous.

But all of us face situations where night driving is necessary. So, when you do, slow down, be alert, and concentrate on what you’re doing. Stay safe during our beautiful fall season!

Until next time,
Your SZW Team

SZW Insurance is your Utica area Trusted Choice™ independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote. In Westchester County call Zak Scalzo at 914.246.0315 or email at zaks@szwinsurance.com.