Nationwide the results are showing an increase in accidents across the board. There is a marked increase in DUI and numerous other night time accidents. According to the Institute for Highway and Traffic Safety, many of these accidents are avoidable or at least their severity greatly reduced. For the purpose of this article we consulted the safety experts of the state police and firefighters of several states and specifically asked them what worked best. Below are their recommendations and tips for improving driver safety and reducing the incidence or probability of an accident.
Their first tip was to increase the following distance. Aggressive driving and following too close can easily result in a rear end collision, especially at night when vision is reduced and reaction time is slowed. A good rule of thumb is to allow at least one car length of distance between cars for each 10 mph increment. So, for 10 mph 1 car length will suffice and for 60 mph at least 6 car lengths or more. This will allow for proper reaction time and braking in an emergency. Also watch out for cars switching lanes without using turn signals. If you follow too closely there may be another car stopped in you lane that you will not have time to stop for.
Another great tip for avoiding unnecessary night time accidents was to make sure your cars lighting works properly. This is especially important at night when visibility is already low and a dimly or unlit vehicle poses a great risk and threat to other cars. According to New York State Troopers the biggest problem with headlights was not actually the bulb, it was the plastic cover of the headlight lens. Since 1992 clear plastic headlights have been made standard on almost every car made and the problem is that these plastic lenses are very susceptible to damage from the environment. Just like car paint, plastic lenses become damaged and cloudy from exposure to UV rays, harsh weathering and acid rain. The lenses start to cloud and before long light output and safety can become greatly reduced.
According to the AAA Foundation for traffic safety, An average of 9 out of every 10 cars on the road today has dirty or yellowed headlights that greatly reduce vision and need to be replaced or restored. That means almost every car out there is in need of some degree of headlight repair or restoration. It used to be that the only option was replacement of the cloudy headlight lens at an average of $250 per lens. Now there is a headlight restoration kit available that is currently used and backed by numerous police and state agencies that will restore the headlight lens to new again and restore night time driving safety. According to the National Institute for Highway Traffic and Safety dim headlights are the number one most easily avoidable factor in serious night time accidents.
Another tip was dirty or improperly cleaned windshields. According to several state troopers, most people do not realize the effect of glare on night time or daytime driving. Glare can literally blind you. If your windshield or other windows are dirty or even fogged, your vision can quickly be impaired. All it takes at night is for someone to be driving with a dirty windshield and an oncoming car with their bright lights or even regular lights on. You will be temporarily blinded and long enough to easily cause a serious accident. Clean your windows at every fill up. Many gas stations have windshield wash stations available so take advantage of them. If your windshield has scratches or cracks get it replaced. It is also a good time to check your headlights and tires to make sure they are properly inflated as improperly inflated tires can cause you to lose traction when you need it most.