According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities on the road occur three times more often at night than during the day even though only a quarter of all driving is done at night. In low-light conditions, your depth perception, ability to distinguish color and contrast as well as your peripheral vision all worsen.
When you add to that glare issues and light sensitivity due to on-coming drivers’ bright headlights, it’s no wonder many people begin to scale back on their night time activities or forgo them all together.
Today we’re focusing on how to combat glare and those moments when you’re momentarily blinded by another driver’s lights while driving at night.
We all know dirty windshields and mirrors can obstruct your view. Be careful what surface cleaners you use when cleaning windows and mirrors –some products leave steaks, smudges, or give off an unwanted glare.
Driving at night with the dash light on “maximum” can also compromise your vision. Turn down the brightness levels of the dash to avoid stray reflections. Also, don’t leave your map lights on.
According Popular Mechanics, “Less-expensive interior lights will disperse light all over the interior and shine into the driver’s eyes, too. Most luxury cars have focused reading lights that pinpoint objects without causing glare. The rule of thumb for a good map light is that you should never see the source of the light from the driver’s seat. Still, as good as your map lights may be, it’s best to avoid driving with them on.”
Since visibility is dramatically decreased at night, drivers need to be extra focused when behind the wheel. Bright lighting can seriously disrupt your concentration as well as affect your vision. Your eyes adjust to the darkness and the soft glow of the instrument panel. But, it’s very easy to lose interest in watching the road ahead and inadvertently gaze into a headlights of an oncoming 18-wheeler or stare at the lights in an electronic sign. This can give off a hypnotic effect or blind you momentarily when your eyes try to adjust back to the darkness. Be sure to often look away from bright lights on the road.
On that note, switch your headlights to “low beam” when you’re behind someone so you don’t blind them. At the same time, adjust your inside, rear-view mirror to night setting, or ensure the auto dim mechanism is working. Darkening the mirror prevents light (via rearview traffic) from shining into your eyes.
Glare recovery and photophobia can also be combated through proper nutrition. And your macular pigment optical density plays a large part in the quality of your vision.