Winter is the darkest time of the year in Arkansas. Commuting in the dark is inevitable this time of year since daylight ends by the early evening. Nighttime driving is far more dangerous than driving during the daytime for many reasons, namely reduced visibility, drowsy driving and impaired driving.
Many of the roadways in Arkansas are rural and lack adequate lighting, which significantly increases the risk of a crash. Pedestrians and bicyclists are especially at risk of being hit at night. In fact, around 76 percent of pedestrian fatalities happen at night.
How visibility is affected during nighttime driving
You're about three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash at night than during the daytime, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). That's because the majority of drivers' reactions depend heavily on visibility. Drivers can typically only see 250 feet in front of them at night with the headlights on. When the high beams are turned on, visibility doubles to 500 feet. That's still nowhere near as much visibility drivers get during the daytime. Drivers who fail to properly clean their headlights or replace defective headlights will likely experience less visibility.
There are other factors that play into poor visibility at night, such as:
- The weather - Rain, snow, and fog often reduce the range of visibility.
- Headlights from other cars - The glare from other drivers' headlights can be nearly blinding for some drivers.
- Declining vision - Drivers ages 50 and older generally need twice as much light than drivers 30 years old and younger. In addition, cataracts and other degenerative vision disorders can make driving at night dangerous.
How night driving increases the risk of drowsy driving
Dark conditions naturally trigger the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, which can quickly induce drowsiness. Drowsy driving is a cause of serious and fatal crashes that is often not addressed enough. It results in nearly 800 yearly traffic fatalities, according to the NHTSA.
The leading risk factors in drowsy driving crashes include:
- Driving late at night
- Driving for long distances with few changes in the roadway
- Receiving 6 hours of sleep or less
- Traveling across time zones, which causes jetlag
- Suffering from an untreated sleep disorder such as sleep apnea or insomnia
- Working overnight shifts or rotating shifts
- Alcohol or drug use
People are more likely to drive drunk at night
The NSC notes that weekend nights are the most dangerous time to be on the road. Alcohol is the leading factor. Arkansas roads are often riddled with drunk drivers during the evening and night hours. Alcohol impairment often leads to reduced mental focus, poor judgment and loss of control. Even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of drowsy driving.
According to the NHTSA, more than 10,000 people die in alcohol-related crashes each year in the U.S. In 2019, 128 people lost their lives on Arkansas roads due to drunk driving.
Night driving safety tips
The NSC has offered some safety tips for driving at night. These include:
- Reduce your speed and allowing yourself more driving time.
- Keep a safe driving distance between you and the car in front of you.
- Stay attentive, sober, and alert when driving.
- Make sure that your car is properly maintained and the headlights are in good condition.
- Consider purchasing night driving glasses if you have declining vision.
- Be sure to get plenty of sleep and get off the road if you feel too drowsy to drive.
If you or a loved one was injured in a crash while driving at night, get an Arkansas car accident lawyer on your side who can help you build a strong case. With vast legal knowledge and experience litigating car accident cases, The McDaniel Law Firm, PLC is committed to helping injured motorists and their families recover every dollar owed to them. We'll investigate your crash and gather the facts. We'll deal with the insurance companies for you so you can focus on your recovery. Contact us online to get started on your claim. Our legal consultations are free and confidential.