How to Avoid Headlight Glare When Driving at Night

Blinded by the Light - Copyright: Xzelenz Media

Be Aware of the Risks and Know What to Do

The light from headlights at night will always cause some level of glare for most drivers. Bright light reduces your visibility and increases the risk of an accident, especially on two lane highways.

For your DMV test and future driving, you should be aware of the risks and know what to do when you are exposed to headlight glare.

Your Visibility is Affected

If an oncoming driver don’t dim the vehicle’s headlights at night, glare will most likely affect your visibility. It affects you, not only while the glare light is visible, but even after the glare light is no longer in the field of view. After an oncoming vehicle has passed by, it takes some for the pupil to readjust to the less intense light.

Older drivers, impaired drivers, and drivers in poor physical condition usually find glare more difficult to handle because it takes longer for their eyes to recover.

The brighter the light is, the less you can see of the road ahead and the longer it will take for your eyes recover.

Bright light - Copyright: Dmitrieva Daria



Drifting in Your Lane

When you are exposed to oncoming headlights and see less of the road ahead, you also tend to drift in your lane. On a two-lane highway (one lane of traffic opposes another lane of traffic), it means that your vehicle may drift closer to the right edge or to the center and opposing traffic. It also means that you may be closer to pedestrians walking on the shoulder.

Discomfort Glare

Discomfort glare is the sensation of annoyance, or even pain, that you may experience when you are expose to a bright light. If this happens often when you drive at night, you should see your eye doctor.

Headlight Glare from Behind

If your car has a traditional day/night mirror to deflect the glare at night, learn how to use it. The night setting reduces the headlight glare from the cars behind you and helps you see better. Modern cars often come with auto-dimming rear view mirrors, which automatically dim the mirrors reducing glare from behind.

Safety Tips and Things to Know for Your Exam

  • Don’t look directly into the headlights of approaching cars. Instead, shift your eyes down to the right edge of your lane. Rural highways may not have median lines or edge lines to guide you, so make sure you stay in your lane.
  • Slow down. Because you see less of the road ahead, you must drive slower. The road may turn ahead and there may be obstacles or pedestrians nearby. Make sure you can stop within the distance you can see ahead.
  • Don’t wear sunglasses or dark glasses at night. Even if the may help with the discomfort of oncoming headlights, they make it harder for you to see ahead. Tinted windshields also affect night vision.
  • Keep windshields and headlights clean. When headlamps are dirty or damaged, the light distribution is altered. It may cause you to see less and it may cause more glare for oncoming drivers. You should check both windshields and headlamp lenses on a regular basis.

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About Joni Stark
Business Analyst, Senior Instructor & Project Manager

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