At 2 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7, Daylight Saving Time will end. And while we’ll all gain an extra hour of sleep, we’ll also lose an hour of daytime driving. Even though there’s often less traffic on the roads at night, 50% of all traffic fatalities occur after sunset, according to the National Safety Council. The peak time of day for fatal crashes from October through March is between 4 – 7:50 p.m. Get ready for the time change. Take this quick refresher on safe habits for driving in the dark.
1. Use your high beams – Make sure your truck’s headlights are properly adjusted. When it’s dark, use your high beams whenever it’s safe to do so. High beams allow you to see twice as far ahead (500 feet) than low beams (about 250 – 300 feet). Switch to low beams whenever you’re within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle.
2. Slow down – No matter how good your vision is, it’s a simple fact that drivers can’t see as much of the road at night as they can during the day. That means you should always drive the speed limit at night, and slow down even further if inclement weather or other conditions limit your visibility further.
3. Reduce glare – In just 5 seconds, a truck driving 55 mph travels the length of a football field. So, 5 seconds of blindness from glare can be dangerous. Cut down glare by keeping a clean windshield. Replace your wiper blades frequently. Dim your dashboard lights.
4. Look away from oncoming lights – Staring at the headlights from oncoming traffic can cause discomfort and reduce your reaction time. When bright lights come your way, look toward the center or the right-hand edge of the road until traffic passes. Also, adjust your mirrors so other drivers’ headlights and high beams won’t blind you.
5. Stay extra-alert – Night driving has many hazards, including an increased risk of collisions with wildlife, livestock, and impaired motorists. Know these risks and keep an eye out for them at all times.
6. Know your limits – According to the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration, about 100,000 police-reported crashes occur each year due to drowsy driving, with peaks seen between midnight – 2 a.m. and 4 – 6 a.m. Aim for seven-and-a-half hours of sleep each night. Also, know when you start to get tired and pull over immediately and take a break.
7. Get your eyes checked. The American Optometry Association recommends getting an eye exam at least once every two years even if you don’t wear glasses, and at least once a year if you wear glasses or if you are at risk for vision problems.