While just a quarter of vehicles are driving on our roads at night, more than 50% of Connecticut auto accidents happen at this time. It helps to be more careful when driving at night, but even then another motorist can cause you to get into an accident. If you happen to find yourself in such a scenario, the best Hartford car accident lawyers can help you claim fair compensation for your injuries.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the fatality rate for passenger vehicle occupants in the country is three times more at night than it is during the day. However, this does not necessarily mean that night-time accidents are always inevitable.
There are a few, simple things you can do to improve safety for yourself and other Motorists. This post will enlighten you on the leading hazards you will encounter when driving at night and what you can do to avoid them.
Why Do Most Car Accidents Happen at Night?
Knowing what you are up against while driving at night can help you take the right precautions and possibly avoid getting into a car accident. So, what is the biggest hazard in night driving?
Visibility at night is reduced to about 500 ft. or a mere 250 for cars with conventional headlights. This gives you less time to react to a situation on the road—especially when you are traveling at a high rate of speed.
Additionally, color recognition, depth perception, and peripheral vision around your vehicle are all impaired at night. All these make it more likely for drivers to cause an accident at night.
A 2021 report by the NHTSA shows that more than 100,000 police-reported crashes that year were caused by fatigue. This is why most nighttime crashes occur at the times you expect drivers to be fatigued or drowsy, including:
- Between midnight and 2am.
- Between 4am and 6am.
Fatigue and exhaustion reduce your concentration, judgment, reaction time, and coordination while driving. This, in turn, makes it more likely for fatigued drivers to cause accidents. To put this into perspective, the CDC compared drowsy driving to driving under the influence of alcohol as follows:
- If you have been awake for more than 18 hours, your concentration, coordination, and reaction time may be compared to that of a driver with 0.05% blood alcohol content (BAC).
- If you have been awake for more than 24hrs, you are much like a person with a blood alcohol content of 0.10%.—which is above the legal limit.
If you feel drowsy while driving at night, it is safer to just pull over and get some rest before continuing with the journey.
Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol—blood alcohol content of above .08—and substances is illegal in Connecticut. Still, drunk driving is the leading cause of nighttime car accidents in the state, and the nation at large.
NHTSA statistics show that most drunk-driving auto accidents occur between midnight and 3am. Abusing some prescription medications and taking illegal substances may also impair your judgment. Be sure to ask if your prescribed medication can impair your judgment.
Basically, you need to watch out for medications that cause such side effects as dizziness, fatigue, and tiredness. Did you sustain injuries due to an accident that was caused by a drunk driver? Be sure to hire an experienced, aggressive Connecticut auto accident lawyer to help you get fair compensation for your injuries.
How Can You Prevent Car Accidents at Night?
Now that you know the leading causes of nighttime car accidents in Connecticut, what steps can you take to avoid nighttime accidents? Here are 7 of the best tips you can apply to reduce your likelihood of getting into a car accident at night.
Defensive driving is a set of safe responses you can apply to potential hazards on the road while driving. Potential hazards, in this regard, include other drivers, inclement weather, debris, and damaged road surfaces.
For instance, if another driver appears to be swerving in and out of lanes, is tailgating you, or is speeding, try to put as much space between your vehicle and that other vehicle as possible. This gives you enough space and time to react should anything go out of hand.
Keep the Headlights, Side Mirrors, and Windshields Clean
A Buildup of dirt and grime on the windshield, side mirrors, and headlights, can reduce your visibility even further. When driving, you should be conscious of your surroundings at all times. A clean windshield and side mirrors will help you see better.
Remember to clean the headlights regularly and replace broken ones right away to improve visibility at night.
Don’t Look Directly at the Headlights on Oncoming Vehicles
Blue headlights are a preferred headlight option for many vehicle owners today. While such headlights are great for illuminating the road ahead, they may be potentially dangerous if mounted on oncoming vehicles.
If you look directly at these headlights, the blue light will penetrate through your eye lens to the back of the eye. This has been proven to cause temporary blindness only briefly as your eyes adjust to the sudden change in lighting.
Those few seconds are all it takes for a mishap to happen. To avoid this, keep your eyes on the road and avoid looking at the headlights on oncoming vehicles—blue or otherwise.
Use High Beams as Often As Possible
As opposed to low-beam, high-beam headlights illuminate the road ahead at an angle. This allows you to see further ahead, between 350 and 500 feet ahead of your car. High-beam lighting will give you more room and time to react to a hazard when driving at night.
However, you should not use high-beam lighting when driving closely behind another vehicle or within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle. Other than those times, be sure to switch back to high-beam lighting to avoid a nighttime car accident.
Drive at a Manageable Speed
A report by the NHTSA has revealed that about 37% of nighttime car accident fatalities are caused by speeding, reduced reaction times, and lower visibility. With nighttime visibility reduced to about 400 feet ahead of your vehicle, you only have a few seconds to react to a hazard.
For example, assume that an obstacle suddenly appears on the road when you are driving at 87 MPH. Since it is at night, you will only notice it when it is 400 feet, or less, ahead of you. At that speed, it is almost impossible to react in time to avoid an accident.
Be sure to drive at a rate of speed that allows you to react to hazards in time, depending on the visibility.
Watch Out for Pedestrians and Wildlife on the Road
Though recommended, not all pedestrians wear reflective gear or carry flashlights when on the road at night. Collisions with deer and other types of wildlife are also common at night, especially between October and January.
To avoid hitting a pedestrian or deer, you should constantly monitor the sides of the road you are driving on. Hitting a pedestrian or dear will result in significant property damage and possibly injuries.
If it happens to you, have Hartford car accident lawyers evaluate the case and advise you on the right course of action.
Dim or Turn Interior Lights Off
Dashboard lights and instrument panel lights can distract you or affect visibility if you leave them on while driving at night. If possible, switch all the lights inside the car off. If your vehicle does not allow you to turn these lights off, adjust them to the lowest brightness level possible.
If you do not, they could distract your visual acuity, making it more likely for you to get into an accident.
Even when you have observed all these safety precautions, there is still a chance that you could get into a nighttime car accident. The good news is that another motorist is likely to cause it—if you are careful enough.
In such a case, it would be much easier for Connecticut auto accident lawyers to prove that the other driver was liable. If you or your loved one was injured in a nighttime car accident, be sure to hire the leading Hartford car accident lawyers to advocate on your behalf. Contact us today for a free consultation.