Winter is the darkest time of the year. In urban areas such as Vancouver, drivers are often at risk of hitting pedestrians and bicyclists at night. The driving risk becomes even greater in rural areas, which make up the vast majority of Washington.
Poor visibility, fatigue, and unfavorable weather conditions often play a role in crashes at night. Below, you'll find the most common risks associated with driving at night, as well as safety tips to avoid a crash. If you were injured in a crash caused by someone else's negligence, an experienced car accident attorney in Vancouver can help.
Visibility is limited at night
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), traffic fatalities are about three times more likely to happen at night than during the daytime. The NSC points out that about 90 percent of driver's reactions to obstacles in the road depend on vision. During the night hours, vision is reduced to 250 feet for most drivers with the headlights on (500 feet with high beams on). Vision can further be reduced by poorly maintained or dirty headlights.
Visibility is further impacted by weather conditions such as rain, snow and fog. This can result in glare and block the lines and other markings in the road. Older drivers tend to be the most affected by poor nighttime vision. For example, drivers 50 and older need twice as much light to see at night than drivers 30 or younger.
Impairment and drowsiness more common at night
People are more likely to consume alcohol or recreational drugs after getting out of work or late at night. Impaired driving is one of the factors that makes night driving so dangerous. According to the NSC, more fatal crashes occur on weekend nights than any other time during the average week. In addition, nearly a third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. involve a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.08 percent.
If you happen to notice another driver behaving erratically or noticeably impaired, do your best to keep your distance and call the police. Since there are many safe alternatives to drunk driving, drivers have no excuse for getting behind the wheel while impaired.
Drowsy driving is also a common risk at night. People who receive six hours of sleep or less per night, spend long hours on the road, or suffer from sleep disorders are especially at risk of falling asleep at the wheel while driving in the dark. That's because:
- Our circadian rhythm (the body's natural clock) programs us to sleep during the night hours and be alert during the daytime.
- The release of melatonin (a sleep hormone) often occurs when conditions are dark.
Nearly 800 people die each year in crashes caused by drowsy driving.
Safety tips for driving at night
The NSC recommends taking the following precautions when driving at night:
- Allow yourself more time to get to your destination.
- Maintain a safe speed and following distance and keep your headlights on low beam when behind another driver.
- Avoid smoking while driving, since this can reduce your vision.
- Avoid driving while distracted, impaired or fatigued.
- Ensure that your headlights, windows and signals are cleaned and maintained.
- Drivers with declining vision can consider getting night driving glasses.
- Get plenty of sleep if you're able to. If you notice any signs of drowsy driving, get off the road and consider taking a nap.
Contact a car accident attorney in Vancouver if you were hurt in a crash
If you or a loved one was hurt in a crash while driving at night, you may have questions about what course of action you should take. Getting prompt medical attention and speaking to an experienced car accident attorney in Vancouver is a good start. You may be facing steep medical expenses and other damages related to your crash. But don't count on the other driver's insurance company to compensate you to the fullest extent.
An attorney at The Scott Law Firm, PLLC can go over your legal options with you. We can help you build a strong case and deal with the other driver's insurance company for you. Your only focus should be on your recovery. We'll handle the rest. Our law firm has successfully recovered millions of dollars for our clients in settlements and verdicts. To schedule your free legal consultation, contact us online or call us today.