With autumn closing in and the sun setting earlier every day, it reminds us that night driving is a different animal than driving during the day. Brush up on your night driving skills, such as leaving larger gaps between you and other drivers, and these other tips:
- Keep a Safe Distance. While this tip is encouraged for driving in general, it’s even more important to keep a safe distance from other vehicles at dusk and into the evening because your eyes are trying to adjust to the waning light while also battling glare from the sun.
- Keep all Windows Clean. Summertime fun and frivolity can result in a dirty car. All of the rain and debris find a home on your windows and you might not even realize it until you swipe your finger through. Make a point to regularly clean your windows, most importantly your windshield, so that sun glare doesn’t distort your view and you’re able to see with precise clarity once night arrives.
- Don’t Speed. When the sun is right on the horizon, your visibility is compromised. It will be more difficult to distinguish the distance between cars and sometimes even the cars themselves. Expect that drivers headed west will likely go slower because of the setting sun, so be patient with them and yourself during this time.
- Keep Eyes Averted. Mother was right! It’s dangerous to look into the sun and can cause eye damage. Never look directly at the sun, even when it’s less bright at sunset. Instead, keep your eyes averted. Looking at the sun causes your retina to flood with ultraviolet light, which actually burns the tissue.
- Keep Polarized Sunglasses Handy. The beauty of polarized sunglasses is that they filter out glare. They may be a tad more expensive than regular sunglasses but if you hate fighting with the sun at sunset, keep these handy for greater visual comfort and clarity.
- Lower Your Sun Visor. It’s there for a reason. Your sun visor helps block the sun at just the right times. Especially if you pull them over to block sun glare from the left when you’re driving. Many visors have extensions that can be pulled out if necessary.
- Pull Over If You Have To. If you are in a situation where the sun is truly blinding you and you’re not able to reduce the glare with sunglasses, the visor, or anything else, pull over and wait a few minutes when it’s safe to do so. You’ll be surprised at how quickly the sun sets and is no longer a nuisance.
- Avoid Distractions. Of course, distractions when driving are never a good thing. However, when the sun itself is a huge distraction, you’ll want to stay focused on the traffic and driving as much as you can. As mentioned above, the sunset won’t last long so you know that in just a few short minutes you’ll likely be able to breathe a sigh of relief as it sets below the horizon. Sunset often correlates with dinner time for many people, and if you’re on the road you might be trying to drive and eat at the same time. Curb this desire by parking and eating, dining in the restaurant or skipping it altogether until you get to your destination.
- Turn on Your Headlights. It may seem counterintuitive because you certainly don’t need help seeing the road directly in front of you, but now you’re thinking about the drivers behind. When you turn your lights on, they’ll be able to see your tail and brake lights, therefore seeing you better because remember, they are experiencing sun glare, too.
- Watch for Pedestrians and Bikes. It might be a beautiful time to take a run, but it’s also one of the most dangerous. When a pedestrian is walking or jogging along the road headed west they can easily be absorbed into the sun glare and you may not see them. During this time, remember that bikers and families are often out enjoying the day, so wear your polarized sunglasses, put down your visor and be especially mindful.
Most everyone looks forward to the time when the sun sets late into the evening. But it reverses course upon the summer solstice in June and takes people by surprise when it starts setting minutes earlier every day. Be prepared for this change by being mindful of it and driving safely. Another great tip is to find cheap car insurance so you’re always prepared for whatever incident might occur, from blinding sunsets to hidden dangers lurking around bends in the night.