The two main concerns in staying alert while driving at night are darkness and tiredness.
A driver’s reaction while driving largely depends on vision, and vision is limited at night. One’s peripheral vision, colour recognition and depth perception are affected during night time driving. Age is also a factor as an older person needs more light to see well.
Fatigue is a very real danger when it comes to driving a crew cab van , more so when driving after dark. It is more difficult to concentrate on driving when you are sleepy or drowsy.
Steps to Safe Night Driving
Driving at night is more difficult than driving during day time. It is harder to judge the speed of other vehicles, harder to calculate distances and driving to a wall of headlights can impair your vision or may serve as a distraction.
It is a good thing that there are several steps that once can do to prepare yourself and your vehicle to lessen the hazards of night driving. Here are some tips for night driving.
Prepare your van or car – Make sure that your vehicle’s headlights signal lights, back lightsand windows are clean. Do this at least once a week -more if necessary.
Turn on Headlights – Always, if you are not confident about nighttime visibility. Though turning on the headlights in early twilight will not help you see better, it will make your vehicle more visible to other drivers and pedestrians. Use the main headlight to maximise the distance you can see ahead. However, when you see other cars approaching, dip your lights to avoid dazzling oncoming cars. In connection, make sure your headlights are set right and not too high. To reduce interior reflection, it is best to dim the dashboard and turn off interior lights.
Stay on course – If you are dazzled by an oncoming vehicle’s high beam headlights, don’t veer away from your course. To avoid the glare, shift your eyes to the left edge of the road and use it as a guide to steer your van.
Reduce your speed – Don’t drive at a speed where you won’t be able to stop within the distance your main beams show to be clear. It is best to reduce your speed and increase your distance from the vehicles in front as it is harder to tell other vehicles’ distances and speeds after dark.
Alcohol and Cigarettes– If you drive don’t drink. If you drink, don’t drive. Alcohol impairs your driving ability and acts as a depressant. Fatigue and alcohol is a recipe for disaster. Cigarette (nicotine) and carbon monoxide hamper your vision at night.
Stop and Rest – If your night route is a long one, make frequent stops, do some stretching and grab some light snacks. If you are too tired, then park where it is safe to take some rest. It is better to be late than figure in an avoidable accident.
In case of a breakdown, pull over on the hard shoulder and park as left as you can with the wheels pointing towards the kerb. Leave your vehicle and stand behind a crash barrier if there is one.