With earlier sunsets and more time spent driving after dark in the fall months, drivers may face additional risks on the roadways. One of these hazards is the way that darker conditions can make it difficult to see and respond to hazards on the roadway. What should drivers know?
Drivers face a number of challenges after dark.
Dark conditions can impact drivers’ ability to assess distance and differentiate colors as well as compromise their peripheral vision. In addition, drivers rely on their headlights and streetlights to see hazards, limiting their vision to the area illuminated by streetlights and the approximately 500 feet lit by their headlights.
Headlight glare decreases visibility.
Unfortunately, the headlights that one driver relies on can create new hazards for other drivers. Glare from oncoming headlights can further decrease a driver’s already limited vision after dark. This is especially true in inclement weather which can increase the glare on windshields and on the roadway itself.
These risks are increased along with the increasing popularity of brighter headlights and headlights placed higher on vehicles. In fact, the more light of LED headlights or high-intensity discharge lights can measure 3,000 to 4,000 lumens compared to halogen lights that usually measure 1,000 to 1,500 lumens. That increase in brightness can make it easier for the driver of a vehicle to see, but they can be blinding for oncoming traffic.
While accidents may still occur, drivers out after dark can take precautions to protect themselves and their passengers. Maintaining their own headlights can ensure that their headlights illuminate the road properly. Keeping their windshield clean and their windshield wipers in good condition can limit the glare from oncoming headlights. Along with driving defensively, these steps can help drivers stay safer even with the visibility challenges that arise after dark.