Whether you are doing a long road trip or getting a late start on your route, sometimes people need to drive at night. Driving during the day is less dangerous, but that’s not always a possibility for road trips.
Lack of visibility, highway hypnosis, and lack of sleep can all add up to a terrifying and dangerous accident. We will discuss some ways drivers can stay safe and alert when they need to drive through the night.
One of the issues of driving at night is called highway hypnosis. This is when a driver is in a conscious and subconscious state while driving, causing them to have no memory of parts of the trip. They may still be responsive while driving, but not fully aware of the drive itself.
You may be wondering, How can you avoid highway hypnosis while driving for an extended time? It’s important to get a good night’s rest, start the trip early, keep a cool environment, listen to loud music, or sit up straight in the driver’s seat to help prevent highway hypnosis.
A good night’s sleep or a nap before a long drive can help you be rested and refreshed before a long road trip. Starting the trip earlier rather than later can give you more daylight hours to get a head start on the long drive.
Keeping the car at a cool temperature and keeping any seat warmers off is also good to help you stay alert. You can listen to upbeat or loud music while driving, but not so loud that you can’t hear emergency vehicles.
It’s also helpful to keep the driver’s seat in an upright position and not too relaxed. Sitting up straight will help keep you more alert and prevent drowsiness that might occur if you are reclined too much.
There are definitely dangers of driving at night, but you can take some steps to ensure your safety is optimized. Whether you take frequent road trips at night or you are driving at night for the first time, here are some tips for staying safe while driving at night.
Tips for Staying Safe
When you are driving at night, you must take some important steps to keep yourself safe. These tips include things you should do both inside and outside the vehicle.
#1 – Fight the Fatigue
Falling asleep at the wheel is one of the most dangerous things you can do. If you aren’t getting enough sleep regularly or are starting a drive already tired, this can be as dangerous as driving under the influence.
There are a number of things you can do to help stay awake and alert. First, plan for frequent stops to stand up and stretch. It may be once an hour or once every few hours to stop, stretch, and use the restrooms.
You can also drink some caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant of the central nervous system and can help delay fatigue and improve alertness, focus, and concentration.
Coffee is one easy option for caffeine. It is a myth that coffee is bad for you. Coffee also has antioxidants and other health benefits. Tea, soda, or energy drinks are readily available drinks with caffeine.
In addition to using caffeine, it’s also important to stay hydrated with water. Water is important to overall health and wellness because our bodies are mostly water, and most body processes need water to function.
Dehydration can lead to fatigue, lack of energy, or lack of concentration and focus. Keep extra bottles of water on hand anytime you are traveling.
A few other things that might help keep you alert and awake include rolling down the windows, singing along to the radio, or telling yourself a story. You could also recruit a friend or family member to talk to you during your trip, but make sure to call using a hands-free option.
If necessary, stop and find a place to rest. You can either find a safe place to take a nap, or you may need to find overnight accommodations to sleep so you can wake up refreshed.
#2 – Keep a Clean and Clear Windshield
If you are struggling to see at night, a dirty or cracked windshield could be to blame. Before your trip, make sure to fix cracks, chips, or any areas that might be broken.
Wash the windshield before your trip and along the way as needed. You can either use the sponges and water available at gas stations or just bring along some paper towels and glass cleaner with you.
Some states offer free windshield replacement, so be sure to look into that if yours needs replacing.
#3 – Maintain Your Car
Keep up with regular oil changes and tire rotations, and top off any fluids before your trip. A nighttime road trip is not the time you want a car to break down.
#4 – Slow Down
Not only can speeding lead to a traffic stop, but it is also more dangerous at night or during inclement weather. Speeding on unfamiliar roads can also lead to a car accident. Follow the speed limit and slow down to keep yourself safe.
#5 – Use Your Headlights
Clean headlights are important for driving at night, so make sure to clean them before your trip. Clean headlights will help you see animals, objects in the road, turns and curves, other vehicles, pedestrians, or road signs.
Use high beams when necessary to help improve visibility. You should also use headlights during a drizzle, hazy weather, or rain.
#6 – Watch Other Drivers
You may be alert, aware, and sober, but not all other drivers are. Defensive driving is one way to protect yourself at night.
There are more drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the nighttime hours, so you must be extra cautious. Watch for swerving, changing lanes, or sudden braking. Allow yourself more room if you note impaired drivers.
#7 – Use Hazard Lights If Stopped
If you have an emergency and must stop on the side of the road, make sure you are visible to other drivers. Never stop on the roadway because it could cause a collision. It’s best to pull into a gas station or rest area if possible, but if not, make sure to turn your hazard lights on and wear a reflective safety vest.
Safe Driving at Night
Some preparation before a nighttime road trip can go a long way in improving the safety of your drive. Use these tips to help you plan and prepare a safe adventure on the road.
Melissa Morris writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, AutoInsurance.org. She is a college professor who enjoys weekend road trips in her spare time.
Last Updated on 10 months by Evan White