Arizona roads can be precarious at night. And they’re all a little (sometimes a lot) more dangerous after the sun sets. No matter your age, when visibility drops in the darkness, it becomes more challenging to judge distances at a glance, to catch movement in your peripheral vision, and to discern exactly what you’re seeing in the shadows.
Drivers tend to be more tired at night, too. Couple that slower reaction time with a higher risk of drug- or alcohol-impaired drivers, and it’s easy to see why so many accidents happen when it’s dark out. Keep reading for tips for staying safe on those Arizona roads this spring.
Strategy 1: Plan Strategically
You can’t always avoid driving at night, but a bit of careful planning will help keep you safe if you have to hit the road in the dark.
Choose a well-lit, well-maintained route. If you’re in familiar territory, think through your route before you take it and opt for more well-traveled, well-maintained, well-lit roads rather than the shortcuts you might normally take during the daytime. If you’re going somewhere unfamiliar or new, plan out your route using a service like Google Maps, and keep to the main roads and highways as much as possible, even if they make your route a bit longer. Better lighting and maintenance is almost always worth adding a few minutes to your trip when you have to travel at night.
Check the weather. If there’s snow, fog, or heavy rain in the forecast, try not to drive at night. Inclement weather is yet another hazard that makes it even harder to see clearly and to drive safely. Know what weather you’re in for before you head out, and choose wisely.
Do a self-health check. Think it sounds ridiculous? It could save your life. Take a few to evaluate how well you’re feeling, whether or not you’re terribly hungry, and whether you got adequate sleep the night before–especially if you’re planning a longer drive before the sun rises or after it sets. If you’re already tired, a power nap might set you up for success. Lacking energy? Eat a balanced, energy-fueling snack or meal before you hit the road.
Strategy 2: Invest In Your Vision
The biggest impediment to safe driving at night is simply not being able to see as clearly. This affects people of all ages, but it’s a particularly common complaint among seniors. Planning ahead to make sure you’re set up for low-light driving success can make a huge difference in your ability to see the road ahead.
Improve your headlights. Older headlights often develop a blurry, dull look due to almost-invisible scratches and scuffs that develop over years of wear. You can buy polishing kits to restore your headlights to a crystal-clear shine, or replace your headlights altogether. The right headlights make all the difference in your ability to see hazards around the next bend.
Check your glasses. If you’re not sure your glasses have an up-to-date prescription, it might be time for an eye exam and a new pair of specs. Invest in the anti-glare coating to help cut down on the harsh glare of lights at night that can make it harder to see other vehicles.
Still don’t really feel confident driving at night? If not, your best bet is to avoid it. Plan your errands to make sure you get the most important things done during the daylight hours.