Young kids trick or treating during Halloween

As we go deeper into autumn, the days are growing shorter, so it’s essential to take note of this month’s tips for night driving. Although this Halloween will likely see fewer trick-or-treaters than usual due to the pandemic, it’s still important to keep a watchful eye. We also included speeding accident tips this month.

Driving at Night

Traffic death rates are three times greater at night than during the day. Yet, many are unaware of the special hazards caused by night driving and don’t know effective ways to deal with them. Driving at night is more of a challenge than many people think. About 90% of a driver’s reaction time depends on their vision, which is severely limited at night. Depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision are all compromised after sundown. Older drivers have an even greater difficulty seeing at night. A 50-year-old 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 adds to that, and is a leading factor in fatal traffic crashes, playing a part in about half of all motor-vehicle-related deaths. Weekend nights are particularly dangerous; more fatal crashes occur on weekend nights than any other time of the week.

Fortunately, you can take the following measures to minimize after-dark dangers, by preparing your car and adhering to these special guidelines while you drive:

  • Clean headlights, taillights, signal lights and all windows (inside and out) once a week – more often, if necessary.
  • Turn your headlights on a half-hour before sunset and make sure they are properly aimed. Misaimed headlights blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.
  • Never drink and drive. Not only does alcohol severely impair your driving ability, it also acts as a depressant. Just one drink can induce fatigue.
  • Never smoke and drive. Nicotine and carbon monoxide hamper night vision.
  • If there is any doubt, turn your headlights on. Lights may not help you see better in early twilight, but they’ll make it easier for other drivers to see you, which is just as important.
  • Slow down and increase your following distance to four seconds at night. Darkness makes it more difficult to judge other vehicles’ speeds and distances.
  • Don’t overdrive your headlights. You should be able to stop inside the illuminated area. If not, you are creating a blind crash area in front of your vehicle.
  • When following another vehicle, keep your headlights on low beams so you don’t blind the driver ahead of you.
  • If an oncoming vehicle doesn’t lower its 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 snacks and light 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 setting up reflecting triangles near your vehicle and 300 feet behind it. Turn on flashers and the dome light. Stay off the roadway and get passengers away from the area.
  • Observe night driving safety as soon as the sun sets. Twilight is one of the most difficult times to drive because your eyes are constantly adapting to the growing darkness.
  • Be extra careful on curves and at intersections.
  • Please note that professional drivers should have their eyes examined ANNUALLY. It’s normal for night vision to diminish as you age.

Halloween Safety

Even if Halloween sees fewer trick-or-treaters this year, the National Safety Council still urges motorists to be especially alert, so please heed the following warnings and tips.

  • 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.
  • Be alert for criminals using Halloween costumes to disguise their appearance.
  • Read newspapers or look online to learn of Halloween Parade routes and be patient if you are delayed in traffic as a result of a Halloween Parade.

Speeding Accidents

Always obey the posted speed limit and make sure you are familiar with the speed limits and traffic laws in the areas where you most frequently drive.

  • Always scan the entire area so you can observe any vehicles speeding or operating their vehicle recklessly.
  • Be prepared to take defensive and evasive actions should you observe a vehicle speeding in your immediate or distant vicinity.
  • Frequent rearview mirror checks will alert you to a speeding vehicle and allow you to signal and move out of the way.
  • The faster a vehicle is traveling, the greater the risk of a fatality or serious injury in an accident.
  • Speeding and unsafe lane changing not only cause accidents but road rage incidents.
  • Speeding violations can add points to your driver’s license.
  • Drivers with a history of excessive speeding violations may have their insurance rates increased or policy cancelled.
  • Drivers who speed on the streets of New York with passengers in their vehicles often receive customer complaints and can be reported to the TLC.
  • Drivers delayed in traffic en route to a radio dispatched call should notify the passenger or base, and not speed to compensate for being late.
Article by Bertram Merling

Bertram Merling is the Loss Control Coordinator for the Hereford Insurance Company.

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