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Staying Safe after Sundown: Tips for Texas Night Driving

by Stephen Thomas on May 13, 2013

Texas Night Driving Tips

Did you know that even though only 25% of driving is done at night, more than half of all driving deaths occur during this time? According to the National Highway Safety Administration, driving your car becomes significantly more risky once the sun goes down. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to prevent nighttime driving accidents. Whether you’re driving through a city, or out on the lonesome Texas highway, these 5 nighttime driving tips can help you keep you, and everyone else, safer.

Dim Your Dashboard

When driving at night, having a well-lit dashboard can seem like a good safety measure, but it can actually be distracting to the eye. The light that’s generated by your GPS, your stereo, and even your map lights can cause a glare. Limiting the light can make you more aware of what’s happening outside your car, and improve your reaction times. In fact, professional rally drivers and endurance racers lower their dashboard lights when driving at night. Your car comes with a dashboard dimming function for a reason. Use it.

Know How to Avoid Animals

One of the most common accidents at night involves an unlucky animal who just picked the wrong time to cross the road. Knowing what to look for and the best way to avoid them can greatly reduce the amount of road kill you create. The first thing to do is watch for the glare off the animal’s eyes. Their retinas give off a distinct glare as they look up to see your headlights barreling down on them. Second, if it’s a larger animal, try slowing down as quickly as possible instead of swerving around. Animals have a tendency to follow your lights, and could actually move in front of your car.

Use the News

While the vast majority of the population has traded printed newspapers for online news sites, old school newspapers can come in handy when driving at night. If you touch the inside of your windshield, the oil on your skin leaves a residue. It may not be visible during the day, but after the sun goes down, light will glare through the smear. Believe it or not, professional detailers use newspaper to wipe away any streaks. You can’t wipe your windshield with a web site!

Keep Your Headlights Tuned

Did you know that brand new cars can occasionally come with uneven, or poorly aimed, headlights? It’s a good idea to regularly check the angle, to make sure they aren’t set too low or too high (your car’s owner manual should have instructions on this).

You also want to make a habit of checking your bulbs and cleaning your lens covers, as road grime can build up over the years. If you’re driving an older car, the plastic cover can yellow or fade as well. Headlight polish kits are available to reduce the haze caused by buildup. Most Texas TEA defensive driving online courses will cover this in greater detail.

Look Around

Your eyes have to work much harder at night. There’s a much greater contrast between the oncoming lights that zip past and a dark street. Because of this, your eyes can get fatigued much quicker. Optometrists suggest that keeping your eyes constantly moving helps to curb the amount of eye fatigue. So remember to scan your field of vision, rather than focus on one spot.

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