Nighttime driving — especially during the winter months — can be very nerve-racking for many people. Once the sun goes down, the crash risk raises significantly. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), you're three times more likely to be involved in a crash at night than you are during the daytime. Until we set our clocks forward for daylight savings, Philadelphia drivers will be in for a dark evening commute.
Below, the lawyers at The Hanamirian Firm, PC outline the most common risks of driving at night and ways to avoid a crash. We also discuss the course of action you should take after a crash and ways to maximize your claim.
Seeing at night is a challenge
Drivers lose a significant range of visibility at night, making it difficult to detect obstacles and changes in the road. The NSC says that the typical range of visibility with the headlights on is only 250 feet. When the high-beams are turned on, the range of visibility doubles to 500 feet. There are some factors that can reduce the range of visibility when driving at night. These include:
- Dirty or poorly maintained headlights
- Poorly maintained windshields
- Glare from other drivers' headlights
- Weather conditions such as rain, snow, and fog
- Degenerative eye disorders
The NSC suggests that older drivers consider getting annual vision exams. That's because drivers ages 50 and older generally need more light for adequate nighttime vision than drivers ages 30 and younger.
Most nighttime crashes linked to poor visibility are also linked to speed and inattention. Drivers can avoid nighttime crashes simply by reducing their speed, maintaining a safe following distance, and keeping distractions out of reach.
Risk of fatigue at night
Anyone can be at risk of falling asleep at the wheel without adequate sleep. But there's something about the shorter days and dark evening commutes that make us drowsier than usual. Our circadian rhythm is the body's natural clock that programs when we feel alert and wakeful. It typically programs us to sleep at night. When conditions are dark, a natural release of melatonin (sleep hormone) occurs. The majority of drowsy driving crashes occur during the nighttime hours, especially from midnight to 6 a.m.
People who work night shifts, drive long hours, travel across timezones, suffer from sleep disorders, take sedative medications, or get six hours or less of sleep per night are the most at risk of falling asleep at the wheel. Drowsy driving crashes can be avoided by recognizing the warning signs and getting off the road immediately. The most common signs, according to the CDC, include:
- Frequent yawning or blinking.
- Poor memory of last few miles driven.
- Missing an exit on a highway.
- Difficulty staying in a lane.
- Hitting a rumble strip.
Impaired driving more likely at night
Let's face it, there are many people who like to kick back and have a beer after a long workweek. But some people take it too far and get behind the wheel after having too much to drink. According to the NSC, impaired driving tends to be the worst at night, especially on weekends. In fact, your risk of being involved in a crash is much greater on a weekend night than any other time during the week.
More than 10,000 people die in drunk driving crashes each year in the United States, all of which are preventable. Drunk drivers lack the control, good judgment, and coordination to safely operate a car. If you notice another driver who appears impaired or is behaving erratically, be sure to keep your distance and call the police. If you're hurt in a crash with a drunk driver, then you have a strong basis for a car accident case.
Contact a Philadelphia car accident lawyer to demand legal action
If you or a loved one was hurt in a crash while driving at night, it's important that you demand legal action. Speak to a Philadelphia car accident lawyer at The Hanamirian Firm, PC to discuss your legal options during a free consultation. Our law firm has more than three decades of experience investigating collisions, taking on insurance companies, and fighting to maximize compensation for our clients.
Your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages will add up quickly. We'll fight to help you recover every dollar of it. To get started, contact or call our Philadelphia law office today.