The Commercial Drivers License
DRIVING AT NIGHT
You are at greater risk when you drive at night. It's More Dangerous
Drivers canít see hazards as soon as in daylight, so they have
less time to respond.
Drivers caught by surprise are less able to avoid an accident.
The problems of night driving involve the driver, the roadway,
and the vehicle. We discuss each of these factors.
Drivers can be blinded for a short time by bright light. It takes
time to recover from this blindness. Older drivers are especially
bothered by glare. Most people have been temporarily blinded by
the high beams of an oncoming vehicle. It can take several seconds
to recover from glare. Even two seconds of glare blindness can be
dangerous. A vehicle going 55 mph will travel more than half the
distance of a football field during that time. Donít look directly
at bright lights when driving. Look at the right side of the road.
Watch the sidelines when someone coming toward you has bright lights.
Fatigue and Lack of Alertness.
Fatigue (being tired) and lack of alertness are bigger problems
at night. The bodyís need for sleep is beyond a personís control.
Most people are less alert at night,especially after midnight. This
is particularly true if you have been driving for a long time. Drivers
may not see hazards as soon or react as quickly, so the chance of
an accident is greater.
If you are sleepy, the only safe cure is to get
off the road and get some sleep. If you donít, you risk your
life and the lives of others.
In the daytime there is usually enough light to see well. This
is not true at night. Some areas may have bright street lights,
but many areas will have poor lighting. On most roads you will probably
have to depend entirely on your headlights. Less light means you
will not be able to see hazards as well as in daytime. Road users
who do not have lights are hard to see. There are many accidents
at night involving pedestrians, joggers, bicyclists, and animals.
Even when there are lights, the road scene can be confusing. Traffic
signals and hazards can be hard to see against a background of signs,
shop windows, and other lights. Drive slower when lighting is poor
or confusing. Drive slowly enough to be sure you can stop in the
distance you can see ahead.
Drunk drivers and drivers under the influence of drugs are a hazard
to themselves and to you.
Be especially alert around the closing times for bars and taverns.
Watch for drivers who have trouble staying in their lane or maintaining
speed, stop without reason, or show other signs of being under the
influence of alcohol or drugs.
Vehicle Factors Headlights.
At night your headlights will usually be the main source of light
for you to see and for others to see you. You canít see nearly as
much with your headlights as you can see in the daytime. With low
beams you can see ahead about 250 feet and with high beams about
350-500 feet. You must adjust your speed to keep your stopping distance
within your sight distance. This means going slow enough to be able
to stop within the range of your headlights. Otherwise, by the time
you see a hazard, you will not have time to stop.
Night driving can be more dangerous if you have problems with your
headlights. Dirty headlights may give only half the light they should.
This cuts down your ability to see, and makes it harder for others
to see you. Make sure your lights are clean and working. Headlights
can be out of adjustment. If they donít point in the right direction,
they donít give you a good view and they can blind otherdrivers.
Have a qualified person make sure they are adjusted properly.
In order for you to be seen easily, the following should be clean
and working properly:
ē Marker lights.
ē Clearance lights.
ē Tail lights.
ē Identification lights.
Turn Signals and Brake Lights.
At night your turn signals and brake lights are even more important
for telling other drivers what you intend to do. Make sure you have
clean, working turn signals and stop lights.
Windshields and Mirrors.
It is more important at night than in the daytime to have clean
windshields and mirrors. Bright lights at night can cause dirt on
your windshield or mirrors to create a glare of its own, blocking
your view. Most people have experienced driving toward the sun just
as it has risen or is about to set and found that they can barely
see through a windshield that seemed to look o.k. in the middle
of the day. Clean your windshield on the inside and outside for
safe driving at night.
Night Driving Procedures Pre-Trip Procedures.
Make sure you are rested and alert. If you are drowsy, sleep before
you drive! Even a nap can save your life or the lives of others.
If you wear eyeglasses, make sure they are clean and unscratched.
Donít wear sun glasses at night.
Do a complete pre-trip inspection of your vehicle. Pay attention
to checking all lights and reflectors and cleaning those you can
Avoid blinding others.
Glare from your headlights can cause problems for drivers coming
towards you. They can also bother drivers going in the same direction
you are, when your lights shine in their rearview mirrors. Dim your
lights before they cause glare for other drivers. Dim your lights
within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle and when following another
vehicle within 500 feet. Avoid glare from oncoming vehicles. Do
not look directly at lights of oncoming vehicles. Look slightly
to the right at a right lane or edge marking if available. If other
drivers donít put their low beams on, donít try to ďget back at
themĒ by putting your own high beams on. This increases glare for
oncoming drivers and increases the chance of an accident.
Use high beams when you can. Some drivers
make the mistakeof always using low beams. This seriously
cuts down on their ability to see ahead. Use high beams when it
is safe and legal to do so. Use them when you are not within 500
feet of an approaching vehicle. Also, donít let the inside of your
cab get too bright. This makes it harder to see outside. Keep the
interior light off and adjust your instrument lights as low as you
can and still read the gauges.
If you get sleepy, stop driving at the nearest safe place. People
often donít realize how close they are to falling asleep even when
their eyelids are falling shut. If you can safely do so, look at
yourself in a mirror. If you look sleepy, or you just feel sleepy,
stop driving! You are in a very dangerous condition. The only safe
cure is to sleep.