You could get hit by a delivery driver the second you back out of your driveway to head to work in the morning, or you could get into a crash caused by someone texting at the wheel on your way to a lunch meeting. However, according to the National Safety Council, the nighttime is when your crash risk is highest.
There are several factors that contribute to how dangerous it is to be out on the roads after dark, and not all of them are under your direct control. When you understand the risks involved in nighttime driving, you can potentially protect yourself more effectively against those hazards.
Even if someone has worked second or third shift for years, their biological clock still expects them to sleep when it is dark. People’s bodies have internal rhythms, and most people will experience tiredness or drowsiness once the sun goes down. When it is dark out, drivers are more likely to let fatigue affect their skill and may also be at increased risk of dozing off at the wheel.
People can drink at any time of day, but it is most common for people to overindulge when they leave work for the evening. People driving home when a bar closes or after a party ends at night are a real threat to the safety of others on the roads, and many drunk driving crashes occur when the sun has gone down for the day.
Obviously, there are multiple systems in place to reduce the impact of darkness on driving safety. You have headlights and high beams in your vehicle to help you see your surroundings, and most urban and suburban areas will have at least some areas illuminated by street lights. However, the lack of visibility can make it harder for drivers to spot a pedestrian nearby or an animal about to run into traffic, which can easily lead to a crash.
Drivers out on the roads at night can protect themselves by intentionally staying sober, remaining highly aware of their surroundings and recognizing when they feel too fatigued to drive. Employing defensive driving techniques can be particularly beneficial at night when other drivers are likely to be under the influence or drowsy and therefore a source of risk.
Identifying and addressing your biggest safety concerns on the road can help you avoid a motor vehicle collision.