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Fewer Daylight Hours Can Be Risky for Drivers

The end of Daylight Saving Time means fewer hours of daylight, so drivers are going to have to spend more time on the road in the dark. Studies show the risk of accidents increases when driving in lower light conditions.

According to the National Safety Council, shorter days can lead to fatigue and compromised night vision. Depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision can be compromised in the dark.
The risks increase on weekend nights.

Here are tips from NSC and other sources to help combat darkness when driving:

1. Make sure all your car lights – your headlights, tail lights, brake light and signal lights – are clean and in good working condition so you can see and be seen on the road.

2. Clean your windshield and top off your windshield wiper fluid.

3. Replace your wiper blades if they are damaged.

4. Aim your headlights correctly, and make sure they are clean.

5. Dim your dashboard.

6. Slow down to compensate for limited visibility and reduced stopping time.

7. Drive defensively. Adjust your speed to compensate for the low light conditions. Approach all crosswalks and intersections slowly. Check for oncoming cyclists or pedestrians before making any turns.

8. Don't be an impatient driver; slow down.

9. Even though the route may be familiar, stay alert.


10. Don't touch your phone, eat, drink, or do anything that distracts your driving. If you need to make a phone call, stop at a lighted area, such as a service station, and make the call.

11. Leave plenty of room between you and the car in front of you. Follow at a safe distance so you are prepared to react under any situation. Decreased visibility during darker afternoon commutes can affect your depth perception and peripheral vision, increasing the chances for a car accident.

12. Get enough rest. Never drive while overtired.

Encountering impaired drivers can also be a risk when driving at night. According to the American Optometric Association, as we age we have greater difficulty seeing at night. A 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see as a 30-year-old. Some older drivers also may have compromised vision due to cataracts and degenerative eye diseases. The AOA recommends older drivers should get an annual vision check-up.

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