With the days getting shorter and the sun setting earlier, there a good chance you’ll be driving between dusk and dawn more and more the next few months. Unfortunately, those can be some of the most dangerous hours to get behind the wheel. Use these simple safety tips to keep you and your family as safe as possible when on the road.
1. Have a pair of spare sunglasses in the car– While sunsets are beautiful, driving into one can be difficult and dangerous. The sun at that angle can be incredibly blinding. Save your self the trouble of desperately searching for those sun glasses when that sun comes down and always keep a spare pair in your car. On the other hand, be sure to remove them as soon as the sun goes down.
2. Use headlights- the right way!– Often people don’t turn on their headlights until they realize they need them- and that’s usually too late. Contrary to popular belief, headlights should be used at all times throughout the day, including dusk and dawn. While there may be light in the sky, the ambient light at dusk or dawn doesn’t allow for full visibility. Even if your headlights won’t be completely effective in the ambient light, they do allow other drivers to see you more clearly. High beams or “brights” are rarely appropriate to use. They can be extremely blinding to oncoming traffic and are not recommended for use except in rural areas with little street lights. Even so, when using them be very aware of your surroundings. If you hear a car coming towards you, turn off your high beams immediately.
3. Avoid driving tired– The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 2.5% of fatal crashes and 2% of injury crashes involve drowsy driving, and early morning at dawn are when some of the most tired drivers hit the road. Unfortunately, we understand working hours dictate many of our schedules and the times we have to drive. If you have to drive very early in the morning, give your self at least half an hour to fully wake up before jumping behind the wheel. More than anything else, the best way to avoid tired driving is getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
4. Stay on the look out for wildlife– When it starts to get dark, many timid animals feel safe enough to start peaking their way out to investigate the dazzling lights from the passing cars. While this mostly occurs in rural areas, it’s good to keep in mind that if you see something rustling in the grass on the side of the road, it could mean a furry friend is approaching.