Tips for Driving Long Distances at Night | Tiano O’Dell, PLLC

Driving at night poses many safety hazards. While most people do not prefer driving in the dark, there are times when it is unavoidable. Long-distance nighttime driving can be particularly hazardous.

Is Night Driving Really More Dangerous Than Daytime Driving?

According to a study over the course of a recent year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • Alcohol-impaired driving increases at night and leads to more fatalities. During the year of the NHTSA study, 54% of all fatalities at night were due to impaired drivers compared to only 14% during the day.
  • Speeding fatalities remain consistent throughout the day. During their study year, the NHTSA says that 63% of nighttime traffic fatalities involved speeding.

Dangers of Drowsy Driving

A National Sleep Foundation poll found that 60% of adults have driven while fatigued. An alarming 37% of people admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel. The NHTSA has said that there were 100,000 police-reported crashes related to driver fatigue during a recent reporting year.

Driving drowsy puts everyone at risk on the roadway. According to studies, losing three hours of sleep can have the same effects on a driver as three beers and drivers are three times as likely to get into a crash when fatigued.

Safety Tips for Night Driving in West Virginia

While there may be headlights on a vehicle, visibility is still limited. There are several ways that West Virginia drivers can stay safe when operating at night.

  • Wear a seatbelt. The NHTSA shows that 73% of fatal nighttime crashes occurred in those who were not wearing a seatbelt. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seatbelts reduce the risk of death in a crash by 45%.
  • Do not speed. Speeding is the number one cause of vehicle crashes in the US, regardless of the time of day. At night, speeding only increases crash risks.
  • Keep your eyes moving. When you are actively paying attention to your surroundings, you will be more likely to see any dangers and less likely to fall asleep.
  • Look for retinas. Animals are a major hazard on the roadways at night. Look for the glowing film in their eye (called the tapetum lucidum). This will reflect when your headlights hit them.
  • Do not look into oncoming traffic. If you look into the headlights of other drivers, you can harm your vision and impair your ability to see what is going on around you. You should look away from oncoming headlights and focus your eyes on the roadway in front of you.
  • Clean your windshield. A dirty windshield may not be as easily detectable during the day. However, it can be very dangerous at night. Clean your windshield to reduce glare and increase visibility.

What to Do if You Get Injured in a Car Accident

If you get into a car accident while driving long distances at night, you need to make sure you seek immediate medical assistance for any injuries. If possible, document the scene with your smartphone and ensure police are called to complete a report.

When you are stable, you should make an initial report to your insurance carrier. Do not give them any details about the accident other than when and where it happened. Talk to a Charleston, WV car accident attorney about what happened and let the attorney handle any future communication with the insurer and other parties involved.