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Nighttime driving: What you should know

While you may be familiar with navigating the West Virginia roadways after the sun has set, you may be unaware of the dangers that come from driving at night. Not only does the lack of sunlight lead to vision difficulties, but the increased number of drowsy, drunk and distracted drivers on the road leads to an increased fatality rate.

According to the National Safety Council, more than 50% of motor vehicle accident deaths occur at night, even though you only spend 25% of your time driving during nighttime hours. It is important to know how to drive at night and be aware of potential dangers so you can minimize your risk of becoming involved in a deadly accident.

What are the risks?

The absence of natural sunlight can make it difficult for you to see properly, affecting your peripheral vision and depth perception. This is especially true if you are over the age of 50, as you require twice as much light to see as a 30 year old. It can be hard to judge the distance and speed of an oncoming vehicle, so it is critical to be extremely cautious. Although the streets are filled with headlights and streetlights, the bright artificial light may actually compromise your sight.

Furthermore, there are more drowsy drivers on the road at night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 103 million people admit to falling asleep at the wheel, and 60% of drivers say they have driven while drowsy. Drunk and distracted drivers are more prevalent on the roads at night as well.

What should you do?

There are some steps you can take to reduce your chances of getting into an accident. The NSC recommends the following:

  • Have your vision checked regularly
  • Avoid driving distractions, such as using your cellphone, programming your radio and eating
  • Get plenty of sleep and avoid driving if tired
  • Avoid driving at night if possible
  • Remain extremely cautious

It is important to take your time and drive safe so you can arrive at your destination unharmed.

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