Safe driving at night is all about planning and preparing. We all have places we have to go in the evening — as well as the places we want to go! Still, as we get older, night driving becomes more of a challenge.
This is often because a senior’s eyesight may be less acute. It’s also easy to get drowsy when traveling at night. Fortunately, we can take steps to make our evening and nighttime trips safer. If you are a senior citizen who finds night driving frustrating or scary, here’s some advice that can help.
First, Consider Alternate Travel Options.
Consider taking a train or plane to your destinations. Often, night driving is mandatory because you’re taking a long trip. Even if it’s more cost-effective to drive, consider taking a train, bus, or train if driving would mean being on the roads all through the night.
If You Must Drive At Night, Plan Ahead.
If driving is your chosen method of transportation, good planning can optimize your chances of making a safe trip.
- Plan to drive during the daylight if possible.
Start by planning your driving for daylight hours as much as possible. Learn the times when sunrise and sunset occur so that you can take advantage of all the daylight.
As you make your trip plans, check out possible places to stay overnight in case the hour becomes too late and you find yourself exhausted, or the weather turns foul. This way, you won’t find yourself driving when you are tired and less alert, or if you have impaired vision due to rain or snow. Be prepared to stop and stay overnight if the situation demands it.
- Plan your route.
Next, do your homework on your route. Check out your routes ahead of time. Make sure you have a good map and printed directions (AAA, Mapquest, or Google can supply these), even if you plan to depend on your phone or GPS to guide you. Phones have been known to lose power, and GPS satellite reception may wane when you need it most. Always have a backup plan for directions so you don’t get lost. Putting printed directions on a clipboard makes it easier to look at them.
- Do maintenance.
Before you get into your car, take time to do some maintenance. Spend a few minutes to wiping off the headlights and adjusting the mirrors. Make sure your wiper fluid and other fluids are full and fill up your gas tank too.
- Don’t get overly tired.
Begin your trip well rested. Make sure you don’t stay up late the night before a trip. Get packing and planning done days ahead of time, so you can relax and rest easy before you leave. Loading your car the night before can save valuable time as well.
Pack some healthy snacks and drinks to enjoy along the way. This can help you from feeling too drowsy as you drive. Don’t forget to bring along some favorite music, or obtain an interesting audiobook or two to keep your attention also. Sometimes radio stations are not available or won’t be to your taste.
Plan regular stops — at least every two to three hours. Find places to stop for coffee and a snack, to get gas, and to use the restroom. Stretching your legs for a short walk will also help keep you alert.
- Take steps to improve your vision.
If you are a senior citizen, your eyesight may not be as acute in the dark. To avoid being blinded by oncoming headlights, focus on the white line on the right side of your lane. Use your bright lights if no cars are coming toward you, but be sure and switch off the brights as soon as a car comes into view.
- Slow your speed.
If you must drive at night, slow down! Driving at lower speeds makes it easier to stop or turn if and when you need to. If bad weather befalls you, you will have better control at lower speeds as well.
While driving after the sun goes down can be a challenge for all drivers, all of these strategies are sure to improve your night driving skills and safety.