Nighttime driving is less safe than driving in the day for a number of reasons. Some things are uncontrollable like an elderly driver losing their vision or ability to adapt to sudden changes in lighting. Others are completely controllable like how you maintain and use your car. Here are a few ways you can keep yourself safe when driving at night.
Keep Your Windshield Clean
Streaks and paper towel residue that you can’t see during the day can cause a blinding glare at night. Clean your windshield regularly especially when you park around trees that cover your car in leaves and sap.
When you do clean your windshield, use a microfiber cloth instead of a paper towel to avoid using residue. Also, don’t touch the glass with your hands, arms, or shirt sleeves to avoid oil or dirt from rubbing off onto your windshield. Many car dealers give their cars a final wipe with newspaper as newspaper helps to wipe away any remaining water, soap, or oil.
Clean Your Mirrors and Headlight Covers as Well
Your mirrors can cause the same problems as your windshield — a dirty mirror can cause a glare when the light hits it that makes the mirror useless or reflects the light into your eyes. Clean your mirrors the same way you would your windshield. Don’t just rely on the car wash to take care of them.
Your headlight covers can also collect dirt and grime on both the inside and outside over time. This will reduce the range and brightness of your lights. Again, a car wash won’t get them completely clean. Try to clean your headlight covers at least once per year. You can buy a commercial headlight kit, or some people recommend toothpaste or vinegar and baking soda.
Aim Your Headlights
If you replaced your headlights yourself or bumped them while cleaning them or doing other work, they may not be aimed properly. If you’ve ever had people flashing you when your brights were off, it’s probably because your headlights are aimed too high.
Aiming your headlights involves parking a certain distance from a wall and making sure the lights intersect at a specific point. The instructions vary by the make and model of your car, so be sure to look up the instructions for your specific vehicle.
Don’t Use Interior Lights
Having your interior lights on while you’re driving does two things. First, it may cause reflections against your windows that block your visibility. Second, it makes it harder to focus on objects in darker areas outside of your car.
You probably knew not to have your overhead dome light on while you drive, but this advice also includes your phone. If you use it for navigation, be sure that it’s set to a darkened nighttime driving mode.
Consider Adding Fog Lights
If you’ve ever driven through dense fog or rain, you know how it reflects your headlights on you and ruins your visibility. Fog lights help this problem by sitting low and pointing directly at the road to light up the road’s surface. Fog lights aren’t standard on most cars but could be worth it if you often drive through foggy areas. As an alternative, if you’re car shopping, some newer models have automatically adjusting headlights that do the same thing.
Remember, your car has features designed to keep you safe, but you also need to practice safe driving habits. This includes making sure that your car is ready to go out at night.