Driving is a key to independence – no matter your age! However, driving at night presents challenges as we grow older due to a decrease in contrast, sensitivity, depth perception and color perception in lower light conditions.
Experts from AAA Senior Driving recommend the following tips to help keep you driving safe when the lights come on and the stars come out:
Adjust your speed to the reach of your headlights. Do not “overdrive” your headlights by driving at a speed that wouldn’t allow you to stop for an obstacle at the far reaches of your headlights. Compensate for reduced visibility by decreasing your speed and increasing following distance to four or more seconds behind the car in front of you.
Keep your eyes moving. Don’t focus on the middle of the area illuminated by your headlights. Watch for sudden flashes of light at hilltops, around curves, or at intersections because these may indicate the presence of oncoming vehicles.
Look at the sides of objects. In dim light during reduced visibility, focus on the edges or outlines of objects. Your eyes can pick up images more sharply this way than by looking directly at the object.
Protect your eyes from glare. Prolonged exposure to glare from sunlight or headlights can temporarily affect your visibility at night. It can also lead to eyestrain and drowsiness. Wear good sunglasses on bright days, and take them off as soon as the sun goes down. After steady daytime driving, rest awhile before you begin driving at night. At night, dim your car’s instrument panel and use the painted edge lines to guide your vehicle.
Avoid being blinded by oncoming high beams. If the driver of an oncoming vehicle fails to dim the lights, look down toward the right side of the road to avoid being blinded. You should be able to see the edge of the lane or the painted edge line and stay on course until the vehicle passes.
Keep your eyes healthy! Periodic eye and vision exams are an important part of health care.
The National Safety Council also offers these tips.