Why You Will See Questions about Night Driving on Your DMV Test
Your DMV written test will most likely have a question or two about night driving. This is simply because night driving is much more dangerous than daytime driving. The main reason is that the distance you can see ahead or to the side of the road is reduced. But also, because your body is not used to be awake late at night. Your reactions are slower.
Even if we drive less at night, many deadly car crashes happen at night. Which means that the risk of being in a severe crash is significantly higher at night than during the day.
Most of your driving decisions are based on what you see. Since you cannot see as well at night, driving at night is always considered more dangerous.
Most Dangerous Times to Drive
Less traffic at night does not make it safer to drive at night. The most dangerous time to drive is between the hours of midnight and 6am, especially on the weekends. More fatal crashes occur on Friday and Saturday nights than any other night.
If you think that alcohol has something to do with it, you are absolutely right. There are more drunk drivers on the road on Friday and Saturday nights. And as we know, drunk drivers are one of the main causes behind car crashes.
Behind the numbers are thousands of lives cut short, permanent or disabling injuries, and families devastated because someone drove while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
Don’t Drink and Drive
For starters, never drive after you have been drinking alcohol. When you drink alcohol or take other drugs, safe driving is simply not possible. Especially not at night.
Alcohol slows down your reaction time. It also reduces your ability to see clearly, which is especially dangerous when it is dark outside and you are exposed to glare from headlights or street lights. Furthermore, alcohol changes your judgment of speed and distances. When you see less clearly this gets even worse. At the same time, alcohol makes you more prone to take chances. You think you drive better than you actually do.
There will most likely be several questions about alcohol and driving on your license test.
Keep Your Speed Down at Night
Another important rule for safe night driving is to never overdrive your headlights. The range of your headlights is about 350 feet.
If your headlights illuminate the road about four seconds ahead of you, you must make sure you can stop within those four seconds. This is called driving within the range of your headlights.
In other words, you must make sure that you never overdrive your headlights. You must be able to stop within the distance you can see ahead.
You should remember that pedestrians are more vulnerable in the dark than in the daylight. If you drive too fast, you may not see them before it is too late.
Increase Your Following Distance
Reduce speed, be alert and allow for more safety margins than you would during daylight. This includes increasing the following distance to any vehicles ahead.
Night driving means you may need additional time to react to something happening ahead your vehicle. If you follow another vehicle too closely, you can also blind the other driver with your headlights, even when they are on low beam.
Make Sure You Don’t Drive When You are Tired
Be aware of drowsy and fatigue driving at night. You don’t drive as well when you are tired. As with drugs and alcohol, drowsiness behind the wheel can contribute to a traffic crash.
You should always use proper defensive driving techniques, including keeping your eyes moving. Scanning the road ahead, behind, and to the sides helps you keep alert.
If you feel tired, pull over in a safe place and rest. Don’t push it, if you feel drowsy, keep yawning, or your eyes close or go out of focus by themselves.
Night Driving and Headlights
One rule-of-thumb is that you must turn on your headlights when visibility is less than 1,000 feet. Reduced visibility is often caused by weather conditions like rain, snow and fog. When you turn on your windshield wipers, you should also turn on your headlights. This is also the law in many states.
You must also turn on your headlights when it gets dark. State laws often define this as the period from a half hour after sunset until a half hour before sunrise. Even though many people get this law wrong and think it is a half hour before sunset until a half hour after sunrise, there is nothing wrong in keeping your headlights on longer.
Low Beam and High Beams
You must also make a note of when to use high beams and low beams. High beams improve your ability to see the road ahead. But high beams might also blind other drivers or pedestrians. Use high beams in open country and with a clear road ahead. Avoid using high beams in city areas with street lights and/or other vehicles around.
Keeping your headlights on low beam is often enough when you drive inside cities and towns.
You must also dim your high beams when approaching an oncoming vehicle or overtaking a vehicle from behind. State law tells you within what distances you must dim your lights. Make sure you know them.
Never use high beams in fog, not even at night. Water drops will create glare, reflect into your eyes, and reduce your ability to see the road ahead.
How to Avoid Being Blinded by Other Drivers
If a vehicle with high beams comes toward you at night, do not stare directly at the oncoming headlights. If safe, glance towards the right side of the road as the vehicle approaches. Remember, looking straight at the oncoming headlights will impair your night vision, even after the vehicle has passed.
The older you are, the harder it is for your eyes to recover from glare. Users of marijuana may also find it difficult to recover from glare.
Night Driving on Your Permit Test
Permit tests sometimes also includes questions about restrictions placed on a provisional license. While you may drive alone at daytime with a provisional license, you may be required to drive with a licensed driver beside you at night. Study the specific restrictions in your state.