Halloween is at the end of this month, a notorious time for tragic accidents involving trick-or-treaters. It’s all made worse by the fact that days are growing shorter as we venture deeper into Fall. This month’s tips address both of those issues.
- The National Safety Council urges motorists to be especially alert on Halloween.
- Watch out for children darting out from between parked cars.
- Watch out for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs.
- Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.
- At twilight and later in the evening, watch out for children in dark clothes and costumes.
- If you are the victim of children or teenagers throwing eggs at your vehicle, DO NOT get out of your vehicle to escalate the incident. It is easier and safer to proceed to a car wash. There could be dangerous people lurking nearby, waiting for you to get out of your car.
- Be on the alert for criminals using the cover of Halloween to disguise their appearance.
- Read the newspaper to learn of Halloween parade routes in advance, and be patient if you are delayed in traffic as a result of a Halloween parade.
Accidents are three times more likely to occur at night than any other time of day for one simple reason: It is much harder to see at night, and much harder to react quickly when you do see a hazard. Ninety percent of a driver’s reaction time depends on vision, and vision is severely limited at night. Depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision are all compromised after sundown. Older drivers also often have a harder time seeing clearly at night. A 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year old.
Another factor adding danger to night driving is fatigue. Drowsiness makes driving more difficult by dulling concentration and slowing reaction time.
Alcohol is also a leading factor in fatal traffic crashes, playing a part in about half of all motor vehicle-related deaths. That makes weekend nights more dangerous – so keep your eyes open for people driving erratically, especially during that time. More fatal crashes take place on weekend nights than at any other time in the week.
Fortunately, you can take several effective measures to minimize these after-dark dangers by preparing your car and following special guidelines while you drive:
- Keep your windshield and lights clean to improve vision. Clean your headlights, taillights, turn signals and all windows (inside and out) at least once a week… more, if necessary.
- Turn lights on at least a half-hour before sunset.
- Have your headlights properly aimed. Misaimed headlights blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.
- Be extra careful on curves and at intersections.
- Switch from high to low beams to keep from blinding other drivers.
- As professional drivers, you should have your eyes examined annually. Understand that it’s natural for your night vision to diminish as you age.
- Don’t drink and drive. Not only does alcohol severely impair your driving ability, it also acts as a depressant. Just one drink can induce fatigue.
- Avoid smoking when you drive. Smoke’s nicotine and carbon monoxide hamper night vision.
- If there is any doubt, turn your headlights on. Lights will not help you see better in early twilight, but they’ll make it easier for other drivers to see you. Being seen is as important as seeing.
- Reduce your speed and increase your following distances. It is more difficult to judge other vehicles’ speeds and distances at night. Increase your following distance to four seconds.
- Don’t overdrive your headlights. You should be able to stop inside the illuminated area. If you’re not, you are creating a blind crash area in front of your vehicle.
- When following another vehicle, keep your headlights on low beam so you don’t blind the driver ahead of you.
- If an oncoming vehicle doesn’t lower beams from high to low, avoid glare by watching the right edge of the road and using it as a steering guide.
- Make frequent stops for light snacks and exercise. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
- If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible. Warn approaching traffic at once by turning on your flashers and dome light. Set up reflective triangles near your car and 300 feet behind it. Stay off the roadway and get passengers away from the area.
- Observe night driving safety as soon as the sun begins to go down. Twilight is one of the most difficult times to drive, because your eyes are constantly adapting to the growing darkness.