3 factors that affect night-time driving safety

by | Dec 16, 2014

Driving at night can be daunting for drivers of all ages. Older and younger Tennessee drivers may experience a lack of confidence when traveling through the dark, as it may be harder to determine how far away a vehicle is and how fast it is going. Some drivers may have difficulty handling bright light reflections and glare from oncoming headlights as well. In fact, there are three common factors that can affect a motorist’s ability to drive safely at night and avoid an unnecessary car accident or injury.

Low-light conditions

Most everyone has some level of difficulty seeing in low-light conditions. As people age, however, changes are more likely to occur. According to Harvard Health Publications, the eye muscle that adjusts in size in order to control how much light enters the eye loses its strength over time. While these changes may not be as obvious in bright light conditions, night-time drivers are more likely to notice the difference. The number of rods, or cells that are crucial for night vision, that are located in the eye decrease as people get older, and their lens may become cloudy as well. All of these physiological changes can contribute to bad night-time vision.

Decreased reaction time

According to the National Safety Council, vision contributes to at least 90 percent of a driver’s reaction time, which can be impaired in low-light conditions. This visual impairment can lead to decreased reaction time to other drivers’ erratic behavior, people or objects in the road and inclement weather conditions, resulting in a car accident. Distracted motorists who are driving at night pose an even greater risk to other motorists and pedestrians on the road.

Bright lights, reflections and glare

When bright lights are shined directly in a person’s line of sight, the light tends to scatter within the eye causing disability glare, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Not only can disability glare decrease the distance that drivers are able to see, but drivers are more likely to react quicker and experience faster recovery times as a result of the bright light.

Young drivers are often inexperienced when it comes to driving in low-light conditions. Unfortunately, this led to a tragic accident involving an SUV with four teenagers and a large tractor trailer, according to WKRN News. Two teenagers were sent to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, while two other teens were pronounced dead at the accident site. The teen driver allegedly paused briefly while making a left-hand turn in front of an approaching tractor trailer. The truck was not able to stop in time and crashed into the vehicle.

Since most people who engage in night-time driving are affected by some degree of glare, limited eyesight or a decreased ability to respond to a situation, they are encouraged to drive cautiously. People should give themselves plenty of time to get where they are going, and avoid distracted driving in order to ensure safe travel.