Night driving

Night driving

Many people struggle with night driving. Some have a terrible time with the glare of oncoming headlights. Others have difficulty seeing street signs or judging distance especially when it is raining or foggy.

Why is night driving so dangerous? One obvious answer is darkness. According to the National Safety Council 90% of a driver’s reaction time depends on vision, and vision is severely limited at night. Depth perception, visual acuity, colour recognition, and peripheral vision are compromised after sun down. Older drivers have even greater difficulty seeing at night. A 50 year old driver many need twice as much light as a 30 year old. Older drivers also take longer to recover from glare.

Fortunately, you can take steps to minimize after-dark dangers by preparing your car and yourself. Be sure to mention your night driving difficulties at the time of your eye examination.

  • Prescription lenses may need to be worn for night driving. This prescription may be different than your daytime distance glasses due to night myopia. The prescription may require prism.
  • Headlights, tail lights and street lights create glare which can make night driving more difficult. Glare is a distracting problem that may cause the driver to lose sight of the road. Our optometrists recommend an anti-glare coating on your glasses to reduce glare and provide more comfortable night-time vision.
  • Contrast enhancement or glare reduction filters may need to be prescribed. These lenses are usually yellow or orange in colour. They are quite effective especially in rainy conditions. If you find yourself wearing sunglasses at night, you might be better off with one of these filters instead. These lenses are available in both prescription and non-prescription.
  • If your peripheral vision is reduced, your ability to see in the dark is reduced. Dr. Lidkea will examine you for eyes diseases such as glaucoma or retinitis pigmentosa. In the cases where there is no eye disease, vision therapy may prescribe to improve peripheral awareness.
  • Dry eyes can make night driving worse. Artificial tear drops are helpful.
  • Central vision could be affected by dry eye, macular degeneration, diabetes, high blood pressure or medication.
  • Clean your windshield inside and out.
  • Apply a water repellent such as Rain X to the outside surface of all windows and windshield.
  • The faster your speed, the less reaction time you have. With objects already more difficult to see because of reduced lights, adjustment to lower speeds is necessary. Avoid driving when you feel fatigued and take breaks during long trips.
  • Avoid smoking while you drive. Smoke’s nicotine and carbon monoxide hamper night driving. The residue is also left on the inside of the windshield.
  • When approaching oncoming vehicles keep the eyes roving especially to the right.