Speed Limits Do Not Apply to Night Driving
Night driving is more dangerous than daytime driving. Most experts would agree with that statement! However, I am of the opinion that each type of driving has its advantages and disadvantages.
During the day it’s easier to see pedestrians than at night. But, at night it’s easier to see cars (if they have their lights on). For instance, at a stop sign you will see the spray of the headlights of an oncoming car way before you see the actual car. That gives you an extra margin of safety. It’s also easier to spot a parked car that may be pulling out. A parked car with its lights on is not a parked car. It’s a potential hazard because the driver may pull out without signaling or even looking. So, again, seeing lights on a parked car at night, gives you an extra margin of safety.
At night, the big danger is not seeing pedestrians, especially if they’re wearing black clothes. You should also realize that you aren’t able to see as far ahead at night as you can in the daytime. Even with high-beam headlights on, visibility is limited to about 500 feet (250 feet for low-beams) creating less time to react to something in the road.
Compromised visibility is reason enough to drive slower at night. The problem is that speed limit signs aren’t changed at night so drivers mistakenly think the speed limit applies to night driving as well. It does not! Remember, the speed limit does not tell us what speed to drive at. The speed limit is the maximum speed allowed under the best and ideal conditions. Driving at night is NOT an ideal condition because of the difficulty to see pedestrians and drivers who fail to put their lights on. So, slow down to compensate for limited visibility and reduced stopping time
It might interest you to know that in Florida the speed limit signs on highways do change when darkness falls. The signs have built in sensors similar to your headlights that go on automatically at night.
Another danger is the glare of headlights on oncoming cars. This is more of a problem for older drivers than younger ones. A 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old. At age 60 and older, driving can become even more difficult, according to the American Optometric Association. Some older drivers also may have compromised vision due to cataracts and degenerative eye diseases. When this is the case, you should limit your driving to the daytime hours.
The law mandates that only low beams should be used in city driving. On highways and dark rural roads, its permissible to use the high beams, but even then, you must dim your lights when you get within 500 feet of an oncoming car or a car in front of you. If oncoming drivers don’t know or don’t care about the law and don’t dim their lights when they approach, don’t retaliate with your high-beams. Instead, just look down and to the right to avoid looking at those lights. This is perhaps the only time you should not look far ahead when driving.
You can also make night-driving safer by dimming you dashboard lights. But, above all, slow down. Always drive at the right speed for the conditions. And remember, you can be the condition if you’re sleepy or fatigued or otherwise impaired.
UPDATE: (Adaptive Headlights)
Standard headlights shine straight ahead, no matter what direction the car is moving. When going around curves, they illuminate the side of the road more than the road itself.
Adaptive headlights react to the steering, speed and elevation of the car and automatically adjust to illuminate the road ahead. When the steering wheel is turned right, the headlights turn right. Turn the wheel left, the headlights turn left. This is important not only for the driver of the car with adaptive headlights, but for other drivers on the road as well.
The glare of oncoming headlights can cause serious visibility problems. Since adaptive headlights are directed at the road, the incidence of glare is reduced.