Drive Safely After Dark (Guest Blog)

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Do you hate driving at night? You’re hardly alone. In fact, 7 out of 10 drivers in the U.S. fear evening driving because of the lack of visibility, according to an industry study. Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed are worried about hitting a person or an animal, and one-quarter are concerned about not seeing road markings.

With this in mind, consider these preventive measures to help you make it safely down the road.

Prep for Success
Before you head out, make sure your visual tools are in order. Adjust all mirrors and check to see if the dimming feature on the rear-view mirror is set, if you have one. “If you’re driving in the country—where there is no ambient light—make sure beforehand that both of your headlights are working and they’re clear of mud, film, ice and snow,” says Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor for

Pay Attention to Your Headlights
Modern vehicles often allow headlights to get adjusted on the fly from the driver’s seat. “You want to make sure they’re set low for city driving and higher for country driving,” Reed says. If an oncoming vehicle’s headlights are too bright, move to a lane that’s not in direct view. If headlights behind you are too bright, find a safe place to pull over to let the car pass, or move to the right-hand lane.

Keep It Clear
After the sun goes down, bad weather can be intimidating. Be sure your wiper blades are in top form and your wiper fluid is topped off. Keep a working ice scraper with you and make sure your windows are clean. “Once you’re in the car, use your defrost/defog feature on cold, damp nights,” says Art Jacobsen, vice president at CarMD. “Make sure the air is drawing from outside and not in ‘re-circulation’ mode, which will take longer to defrost and defog your widows.”

Stay Alert
Avoid mobile device usage and keep your eyes moving. “Look for reflectors, pedestrians, animals’ eyes, debris—especially if it’s windy or stormy—and stalled cars ahead,” Jacobsen says. “Be aware of any cars near you so you can prepare to slow, stop or change lanes as needed.”

Don’t Outdrive Your Headlights
“That means that if you can’t stop within the area that’s illuminated in front of you,” Jacobsen says, “you’re driving too fast.”