Driving at Dawn & Dusk – Strategies for Staying Safe

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Whether you’re driving with the sun in your eyes or in complete darkness, driving at dawn, dusk, and night time presents unique challenges for drivers. We at The Coppola Firm feel your pain, and we’re here to help as you spend more time in these conditions this winter season.

Driving at Dawn and Dusk: Dangers and Tips

Dawn and dusk don’t happen at a set time every day. While our morning routine like brushing our teeth and heading to work stays the same, the time of dawn and dusk is constantly in flux, making each sunrise and sunset drive different. Combine that unpredictability with the potential to be caught either in complete darkness or blinding light, and the importance of preparing for your commute becomes even more essential.

Tip: Get informed! Search on the web or check your weather app to find out the sunrise and sunset time before your commute.

At dawn, getting caught driving with the sun in your eyes can be hazardous for yourself and other drivers if you aren’t prepared.

Tips for blinding light while driving:

  • Clean your windshield inside and out.
  • Wear sunglasses, preferably polarized.
  • Use your flip-down visor.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Pay close attention to stoplights, drivers in front of you, and pedestrians to avoid missing crucial information about your surroundings.
  • Slow down! Driving a bit slower while the sun is in your eyes can give you precious moments to react to whatever may happen on the road.

Although both dawn and dusk can potentially be risky, dusk is a particularly dangerous time to be on the road. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the peak time of day for accidents in October to March in 2020 was dusk, from 4:00 PM–7:59 PM. Some dusk-related danger factors include fatigue, congestion, and eyesight adjustment.

After a long day at work, many drivers may find themselves tired. In fact, according to a National Sleep Foundation poll, 60% of adults have driven tired, and another 37% (103 million people!) have fallen asleep at the wheel. Driving while fatigued can cause drowsiness and a reduced reaction time, comparable to driving while intoxicated.

Tips for avoiding driving fatigue:

  • Get enough sleep! It is recommended that you get 7+ hours of sleep so that you don’t catch yourself nodding off at the wheel.
  • Avoid driving if you’ve been awake for over 16 hours.
  • Take a break every two hours or pull over and take a nap if you’re drowsy. It’s better to arrive safely and late than to put yourself and others at risk by ignoring your body’s need for sleep. Taking a break can reset your body and restore your focus.
  • Travel during your normal waking hours. Try to travel during times when you would normally be awake rather than fighting sleepiness while driving at times when you would normally be in bed.

Congestion due to rush-hour traffic is another major concern while driving at dusk. The combination of crowded roads and people rushing home means that you have to be extra careful as you make your commute.

Tips for driving safely during rush hour:

  • Slow down! Try your best to not be an impatient driver and slow down on your commute. Driving slower will ensure that you give yourself enough reaction time on the road.
  • Stay in your lane and watch for people darting in between lanes.
  • Keep alert! Although you may drive the same route every time you’re heading home from work, make sure you don’t go on autopilot. Focus on the road, make sure you know your route, and avoid distractions such as eating or phones.

Throughout the day, your eyes get used to bright light, so the setting sun can present some visibility issues during your commute. As the amount of daylight reaching your eyes decreases, animals, pedestrians, and other objects in the road can disappear from sight.

Tips for working with your adjusting eyes:

  • Turn your headlights on as soon as you notice the sun’s setting.
  • Bring sunglasses to prevent glare and protect your eyes from bright light.
  • Slow down and be cautious!

Driving at Nighttime: Dangers and Tips

Since sunrise occurs later and sunset occurs earlier in the winter season than the summer season, your daily commute is likely to be in the dark. In nighttime conditions, some danger factors include visibility issues and impaired drivers.

Visibility is a significant problem while night driving. Nighttime conditions reduce contrast in our visual field, meaning that something in the road has to be bright and highly conspicuous to be noticed at night. With age, your vision at night decreases, making it even harder to see things in the road. On top of that, your headlights only give a limited amount of additional visibility.  Even with high-beam headlights on, visibility is limited to about 500 feet, and normal headlights only provide about 250 feet of visibility.  With less visibility comes less time to react to different possible dangers on the road, such as critters, pedestrians, and cyclists.

Tips for increasing visibility while night driving:

  • Have annual vision exams. Visit your doctor to make sure your eyesight is road-ready.
  • Take a driving course. No matter your driving experience, taking a course can be useful to make sure you keep your night driving skills polished.
  • Stay focused! Make sure that you limit any distractions while driving, including eating, drinking, and phone usage. In addition, knowing any prescription drug side effects that could affect your focus will help you drive safely at night.

At night, specifically between midnight and 3:00 AM, there’s a higher chance of encountering drivers impaired by drugs, alcohol, or other substances. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around one-third of all automobile accidents are the result of impaired driving.

Tips for protecting yourself from impaired drivers:

  • Wear a seatbelt. Your seatbelt is your number one protection in case you have a collision with an impaired driver. Sometimes danger from an impaired driver is unavoidable, and it is proven that wearing a seatbelt reduces the likelihood of a fatality.
  • Drive cautiously! Stay several car lengths behind other cars so that you’ll be able to notice erratic behavior and take special care to drive slowly and look both ways at intersections.

Driving at dawn, dusk, and nighttime can be difficult for drivers of all ages and experience levels.

With these tips, The Coppola Firm hopes you stay safe on the roads this winter season. If you experience any sort of accident or incident, you’re always welcome to reach out to us. There are very brief paperwork deadlines attached to vehicle accidents, and we can help you with that paperwork while you focus on your health and wellbeing.

Lisa Coppola

Written by Lisa Coppola

Founder of The Coppola Firm

Lisa A. Coppola, Esq. understands the challenges her clients face, whether they’re starting a new business, taking their existing operations in a new direction, or facing a claim or threat.

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