There are sound reasons that many motorists feel less comfortable driving at night. The natural tendency to feel less comfortable driving at night is supported by the fact that the fatality accident rate is three times higher than during the day according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Although there are inherent risk factors that increase the danger of driving after dark, there are also driving safety practices that can mitigate this risk. Further, the NHTSA also reports that approximately half of all auto accidents occur at night even though traffic is much heavier during the day. Because our experienced Mississippi car accident lawyers see the tragic consequences of drivers who do not adjust their driving at night, we urge people to consider the dangers presented by driving after the sun sets and strategies for keeping safe.
- Limited Visibility: Driving requires skill and concentration at any time of day or night, but motorists struggle to see potential road hazards, curves in the road, or even pedestrians crossing the street in the middle of a block after dark. The visibility challenges created by darkness can be complicated by the presence of fog or rain which can further impair visibility. Reduced visibility means that drivers do not identify road hazards as early, so motorists have less time to react and engage in evasive maneuvers like braking or swerving to avert a collision. Darkness can also interfere with the ability of motorist to distinguish objects or determine that traffic is stopped. If a driver traveling toward a motorist fails to turn down his or her high beams, this can make seeing at night even more difficult.
- Speeding: Although there is less traffic congestion at night, this does not necessarily translate into safer roadways. Many drivers view a wide open roadway as an invitation to exceed the speed limit. Traveling at a high rate of speed cuts into the already shorter response time of drivers struggling to overcome the challenge of poor visibility. Speeding contributes to almost a third of all fatal crashes, so increased speeding at night makes the streets and interstates of Mississippi much less safe.
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI): Most people probably are not surprised to learn that drunk driving tends to be more common at night. Whether a driver stops at a bar on the way home from work or enjoys several beers at a sporting event before returning home, a disproportionate number of fatal DUI accidents occur during the late night and early morning hours. Approximately 18 percent of crashes during the daytime are alcohol-related whereas 53 percent of motor vehicle accidents at night are alcohol-related according to the NHTSA.
- Lack of Seat Belt Use: Although it might not seem that driving at night should impact seat belt use, fatal crash data reveals that seat belt use declines dramatically at night. Two out of every three drivers involved in fatal crashes at night fail to buckle up. During the day, less than half of drivers involved in deadly crashes are not buckled up. Although there might not be a clear relationship between the time of day that a person is driving and seat belt used, but the higher frequency of intoxicated driving at night might also explain increased risk taking behavior, such as forgoing a seat belt and speeding.
- Drowsiness: The conventional sleep schedule for most people involves sleeping during late night and early morning hours. When drivers are navigating the roadways during a period they are used to being asleep, the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel is much higher. If a motorist is drowsy, there is a high risk of dozing off.
Although driving at night is more dangerous than during the day, motorists are safer traveling the roadways of Mississippi after dark than in years past. The number of nighttime motor vehicle fatalities has been declining steadily over the last forty years. During that time, roadway safety features, including improvements in lighting, signage, and pavement markings have made night driving less dangerous. Tougher drunk driving penalties and mandatory seatbelt laws also have improved driver safety habits. Vehicles innovations, such as, headlights that provide greater visibility and safety features like air bags have also reduced the risk of driving at night.
Safety Tips for Night Time Driving from Traffic Safety Advocates
Motorists can increase their chances of arriving at their destination safely when operating a motor vehicle at night by implementing some simple safe driving practices.
- Reduce speed to account for diminished visibility at night
- Find a safe location and rest if you are feeling drowsy
- Dim high beams as a vehicle approaches in the other direction
- Bring a designated driver or call Uber if drinking
- Buckle up with both a lap belt and shoulder harness
If you or someone you love has been injured in an automobile accident, the compassionate and knowledgeable Mississippi automobile accident attorneys at Porter & Malouf, P.A. can help. Call our office today at (601) 957-1173 to schedule your free initial consultation.