Do you hold the keys for driving safely at night?

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

As we watched summer fade into fall, we observed the extra daylight in the evenings leave with the warmer weather. With Daylight Saving Time recently ending on Sunday, November 1st, we quickly took notice of how much darker it became earlier in the day. Therefore, as we finish the last of setting all our clocks backwards by one hour in most areas of the country, it is good to remind ourselves to sharpen our safety skills, especially when driving or walking at night.

Although it may become darker earlier, there will still be children and adults out riding their bicycles and walking home from work or various activities. As pedestrians, it is important to take safety into your own hands. This can be accomplished by always paying careful attention to your surroundings and avoiding unnecessary distractions, like your phone. Also, always be visible by wearing light colors, reflective clothing, and reflectors on bicycles or backpacks.

While only one quarter of our driving is done at night, 50% of traffic deaths happen at night. It does not matter whether the road is familiar or not, driving at night is always more dangerous. Shorter days, fatigue, compromised night vision, rush hour, and even impairment are some of the risks we face when driving at night. Depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision can be compromised in the dark, and the glare of headlights from an oncoming vehicle can temporarily blind a driver. Even with high-beam headlights on, visibility is limited to about 500 feet (250 feet for normal headlights). This creates less time to react to something on the road, especially when driving at higher speeds. You can hold the keys to safe driving by following these 10 tips:

  1. Make sure your headlights are clean and adjust them correctly. Your headlights should be aimed at the road, if they do not seem to be working effectively, do not let it go and have them looked at or repaired.
  2. Dim your dashboard.
  3. Look away from oncoming lights.
  4. If you wear glasses, make sure they are anti-reflective.
  5. Clean the windshield to eliminate streaks.
  6. Avoid being an impatient driver. Slow down to compensate for limited visibility and reduced stopping time.
  7. Avoid distractions like looking at your phone, eating, drinking, adjusting the radio or controls, or responding to passengers.
  8. Ensure you are getting plenty of sleep, preferably 7 to 9 hours is best.
  9. Do not drive if you have been awake for 16 hours or more. Essentially this is getting behind the wheel impaired.
  10. Make time for your annual vision exams. Night vision is the ability to see well in low-light conditions. As we age, we have greater difficulty seeing at night. Your eye exam can alert you of any compromises to your vision.  

For more information or to locate a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program near you, visit www.progressiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529. If you do not see an event near you, contact us to see how we can help bring one to your local community. You can help send another child to a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day in 2021 with a small donation. Text the word “SAFETYDAY” to 44321 or visit progressiveag.org/Donate.

Photo: During this fun, interactive experience, Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® participants learn what distracted driving can look like. Therefore, they learn how they can be good passengers when in the car, so they can help the drivers safely reach their next destination.