HOW TO DRIVE SAFELY AT NIGHT

Keep any glass surfaces clean and always check your mirrors, authors of the US-based legal advice blog, HoganInjury, point out. Even if you feel like you know the whole island like the back of your hand and trust your reflexes, it takes one mistake to transform your car into a deadly weapon.

According to the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the deadliest time to drive is between 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM. This period is referred to as the afternoon rush hour when people are coming home from the office. However, there is another dangerous time to drive, although traffic is not as busy. It is between 12:00 AM to 4:00 AM because of the number of drunk drivers on the road. While some regard drink-driving as a Maltese quirk on a relatively safe island, the growing number of accidents should make us more alert than ever.

Driving at night, under influence or not, is dangerous because of:

1. Reduced visibility. The most used sense when driving is our vision. Our eyes need light to be able to see, and when it becomes dark, our ability to see is significantly lessened, especially for elderly drivers because aging can deteriorate your eyesight.

2. Tired driver. Coming from a long day at work and/ or a night out can cause drivers to be exhausted or even drowsy when they drive home at night.

3. Distracted driver. Drivers on their way home might be distracted by the things that they need to do later or the following day. An example of this is texting your spouse or someone you live with and asking about errands.

I’s time to take the following steps to make sure that you avoid accidents when you drive during the dark:

1. Light up. Use your headlights and taillights correctly. Your headlights and taillights will help you see everything and enable other drivers to see you. Only use your high beams whenever you’re alone on the road and not when there are vehicles in the other lane. Fog lights can also be useful when it’s dark, and there are no other sources of light around. Keep your headlights and taillights in good condition and have them checked regularly.

2. Glass maintenance. You should keep all the glass component of your vehicle clean at all times, especially your windscreen. Your windscreen may appear clean during the daytime, but during the night, when you’re driving towards oncoming headlights, there may be streaks that can cause glare. Dirty side mirrors can cause light from behind you to take on a diffused shape and can cause glare as well. Try cleaning your windscreen and side mirrors with newspaper to remove residue and avoid using your hands. Our body produces oils which can further blur your windshield and side mirrors.

3. 20-20 Vision. Keep your eyes healthy. Have them checked regularly and wear glasses if necessary. It’s also best to get an anti-reflective pair of glasses for night driving to lessen the risk of getting into an accident when other drivers’ high beams flash into your face.

4. Stay alert. Be sure to check out for lights and movement and regularly check your mirrors. Aside from helping you be aware of everything that’s happening around you, doing this can also help you stay awake since it keeps your eyes busy with activity. Staying alert also enables you to identify drunk drivers on the road.

Further reading:

How to prevent road accidents

Published in cooperation with Hogan Injury.