What are the dangers of driving at night?
During the daytime, drivers have a major safety advantage that they often take for granted. That's because drivers have a much longer range of visibility during the daytime. Once the sun goes down, drivers experience a significant reduction in visibility and other risks associated with driving at night.
Until we set the clocks ahead for daylight savings in March, many Wilmington drivers will find themselves commuting in the dark. If you were involved in a crash with a driver who was speeding, impaired, or inattentive, The Law Offices of Richard Flexner can help you recover damages. Below, we outline the most common risks associated with nighttime driving and how they can be avoided.
Why poor visibility is a significant risk at night
Even drivers who have 20/20 vision may have a difficult time seeing what's going on in front of them at night. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the average driver can only see 250 feet ahead at night with the headlights on (500 feet with the high beams on). That makes it difficult to detect changes in the road, recognize signs, and see pedestrians and bicyclists. Weather conditions such as rain, fog and wet roads can make matters worse.
Older drivers and those who suffer from degenerative eye disorders generally have a harder time seeing at night. In addition, the glare from other drivers' headlights can be nearly blinding.
When it comes to driving safely at night, it all comes down to speed. Drivers who drive too fast and don't allow themselves enough time to react to obstacles in the road are at risk of being involved in a crash. This can be avoided by allowing more time to get from point A to point B. Other ways drivers can mitigate the likelihood of a crash at night include:
- Ensuring that headlights are clean and maintained
- Cleaning the windshield and eliminating streaks
- Staying attentive by keeping cellphones and other distractions out of reach
- Getting an eye exam
- Staying sober and alert
Can driving at night increase the risk of fatigue?
Anyone can be at risk of falling asleep at the wheel without adequate sleep. Driving in the dark can actually increase the risk of drowsy driving. The lack of sunlight naturally induces the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. That's one reason why drowsy driving is so common at night no matter what time of year it is. According to the NHTSA, drowsy driving crashes occur most often between midnight and 6 a.m., when we are naturally programmed to sleep. Nearly 800 people die in drowsy driving crashes each year in the United States.
Drowsy driving crashes can be prevented simply by recognizing the signs of fatigue. These usually include:
- Frequent blinking and yawning
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor memory, especially of landmarks along the roadway
- Restlessness or irritability
- Heavy eyelids
- Difficulty staying in a lane
Am I more likely to encounter a drunk driver at night?
People drink and drive during all times of the day, but according to the NSC, weekend nights are the most dangerous time to be on the road. That's because more fatal crashes occur on weekend nights than any other time of the week. In addition, the NSC estimates that roughly 32 percent of all fatal crashes in the U.S. involve a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater.
In 2019, there were 323 traffic fatalities in North Carolina that involved drunk drivers.
Contact an experienced car accident lawyer if you were hurt in a crash
Were you injured while driving at night? If so, it's important that you know your rights. North Carolina is considered an at-fault car accident state, which means you must prove that the other driver was negligent to recover damages. Without an experienced car accident lawyer on your side to launch a thorough investigation, it's your word against the other driver's word. Insurance companies also tend to take advantage of injured motorists who don't know their rights. They may try to shift the blame onto you or offer you a small, quick settlement to avoid paying you more in the long run.
If you accrued medical expenses, lost wages and other damages from your crash, you deserve to be compensated for every penny of it. Don't let the insurance companies dictate the outcome of your case. Let The Law Offices of Richard Flexner handle your case for you and fight to maximize your compensation. Contact our Wilmington law office online to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.