The majority of people find night driving difficult: those who suffer from poor vision, those with corrected vision problems and even people with perfect vision. Some have troubles seeing road signs and pedestrians; others find it hard to judge distances. Regardless of the exact problem, night driving vision problems make driving at night potentially dangerous.
What makes night driving problematic? Driving at reduced natural light or during night is a problem due to a number of factors.
- Reduced visual acuity. The eyes need light in order to see. That is why night driving vision is affected significantly by darkness. According to the American Optometric Association, visual acuity can drop from 20/20 during the day to 20/40 during the night. That’s why even people with perfect vision experience problems driving at night.
- Reduced side-vision. Darkness significantly restricts side vision and that is a serious problem as side vision is essential for save driving.
- Reduced depth perception. Depth perception is the ability to see the world in 3D. It helps us to move accurately based on the distances of objects around us. Low light reduces depth perception and that’s why many drivers find it hard to judge distances when driving at night.
- Glare. Glare from oncoming traffic, or from cars behind and sensitivity to bright lights makes driving difficult for approximately half of all drivers.
- Uncorrected refractive errors. People with uncorrected or under-corrected nearsightedness and/or astigmatism experience more night driving vision troubles than people with good eyesight.
- Cataracts. Night driving may be particularly difficult for people with cataract due to increased distortion of light rays, halos and glare.
Tips for improved night driving vision:
- Undergo a comprehensive eye examination at least once a year. Wear correct prescription and take steps to improve your vision naturally.
- Do not wear prescription glasses with tinted lenses when driving at night.
- Even if you have perfect vision, wear a pair of antireflection glasses. Add anti-reflection coating to your prescription glasses.
- Do not wear sunglasses after dusk.
- Avoid smoking when you drive in the dark as cigarette smoke reduces your night driving vision.
- Do not drink and drive. Alcohol impairs your driving ability and your vision.
- Make sure your headlights, tail lights, signal lights, windows and windshields are clean inside and out. Make sure your headlights, tail lights and signal lights are working properly.
- Dim your dashboard lights and set the rear view mirror to “night” mode in order to reduce glare.
- Keep extra distance from the cars ahead of you.
- Drive slower than the speed limit if you feel uncomfortable driving at night.
- If you are blinded by the lights of an oncoming vehicle, avoid glare by watching the right edge of the road and using it as a steering guide.
- When you are not following another vehicle, turn your headlights to full beam.
- When there is another vehicle ahead of you, change your headlight to low beams to avoid blinding the other vehicle’s driver.
- Never stare at the lights of oncoming traffic.
- Stay alert when driving in build-up areas as pedestrians can be very hard to see at twilight and at night.
- Make frequent stops to rest your eyes with eye relaxation vision exercise.
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