What Can You do to Help Lower Your Risk of a Crash at Night?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Car Accidents Published on March 7, 2022 and updated on April 6, 2022.

hand on steering wheel in car at nightYou should always be careful when you get behind the wheel, but caution may be even more vital when driving at night. It is harder to see things at night and there are often more reckless drivers populating the road after dark. You may be much more likely to encounter drunk or fatigued drivers at night

Some people may assume crash risk goes down at night because there are not as many cars on the road. Unfortunately, statistics suggest the opposite is true, as there are more deadly accidents at night.

The experienced Maryland vehicle crash lawyers at our firm discuss preventing a nighttime auto accident and what you should know about liability for these types of crashes.

Victims of Maryland car crashes may be eligible to obtain compensation for their damages. You should not trust the insurance company to make a fair offer, instead you should strongly consider working with an experienced attorney. Crash victims who hire attorneys often recover more compensation than those who do not.

There are no upfront fees for our services and no obligations with our free legal consultation. Give us a call today to learn more.

Steps to Help You Avoid a Car Crash at Night

While your actions behind the wheel are vital to lowering your risk of a car crash, there are also steps you should take before you even get behind the wheel. Below, we discuss preparing yourself and your vehicle and being a defensive driver.

Getting Yourself and Your Vehicle Ready

Drivers could be held liable for damages if poor maintenance of their vehicle contributed to a crash that resulted in injuries. That means you have a legal obligation to make sure your vehicle is safe to drive before getting out on the road. This is vital at night because there may be a higher risk of a crash.

Headlights and Taillights

Your headlights and taillights need to work properly before you drive at night. Your headlights allow you to see what is in front of you and your taillights warn other drivers when you slow down or are about to make a turn.

You never know when you may be entering an area with few streetlights or even streetlights that are not working. You cannot count on other drivers to be paying attention, and even if they are, they will have a tougher time seeing your car without working taillights.

Cleaning Your Windshield

You need to make sure your windshield is clear, and you can see through it. Make sure you have windshield wiper fluid to help clean the glass. You may need to replace your windshield wipers if they are leaving streaks on your windshield.

Vision and Prescription Medicines

If you are having trouble seeing, you should get an eye exam to see if you need an update to the prescription for your glasses or contact lenses.

If you are taking any prescription medications, check if they may make you drowsy or cause other side effects that could affect your driving. If a prescription could make you drowsy, you may want to avoid driving until you understand how the medication affects you.

Another thing to watch out for is the brightness of the lights on your dashboard. If the lights are too bright it adds too much contrast between light and dark. This could make it harder for you to see clearly.

Impaired Driving

While impaired driving is illegal no matter when it occurs, it is especially dangerous at night. If you are at all impaired, you should not drive. Call a ridesharing service or a cab or have a sober friend drive you home. There are many fatal crashes after dark and many of them are caused by impaired driving.

Drowsy Driving

While drowsy driving is not thought of in the same way as impaired driving, fatigue can have effects that are like alcohol or drugs. Fatigue slows your reaction time and can make you more likely to cause a crash. Losing just two hours of sleep puts you in a state that is like the state you would be in if you drank three beers.

Unfortunately, the roads are full of drivers who did not get enough sleep. According to a National Sleep Foundation poll, about 168 million people admitted that they drive while they are drowsy. In fact, 103 million of that group stated they fell asleep while behind the wheel.

The police report about 100,000 fatigued-driving crashes each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

While you should avoid driving while fatigued, it is important to stay off the road during times you would normally be asleep. Making a habit of getting seven or more hours of sleep per night could help you avoid fatigued driving. Driving after being awake for at least 16 hours is also a bad idea.

Defensive Driving

Defensive driving is always important. You need to keep an eye on the vehicles around you and try to anticipate trouble. You should not assume what other drivers are going to do. You should be prepared to slow down, stop or change lanes because you never know when a negligent driver may put you in a dangerous situation. In fact, you need to assume other drivers are going to behave recklessly and put you in danger of a crash.

Being a defensive driver is about erring on the side of caution. If you are waiting to make a turn and unsure if it is safe to do so, wait for more traffic to pass. You should not expect drivers to slow down. In fact, they may not even be paying attention.

You also need to avoid distracted driving. Do not talk on your cellphone or send or read text messages. Save the social media posts for later. Make sure your eyes are always on the road and your attention is focused on driving.

Before you start your trip, adjust the air conditioning, stereo and other settings so you do not need to do it while you are driving. Be careful not to get too involved in a conversation with passengers as it could be distracting. If you must call someone, get off the road first and stop somewhere safe. There may be an emergency, but you want to avoid putting yourself at greater risk of an accident.

Defensive driving is about being prepared and anticipating problems before they may arise. That way, you have more time to react and try to get yourself away from danger.

Liability for Crashes That Happen at Night

Auto accidents are usually caused by negligent drivers, such as drivers who are drunk, distracted or fatigued. Speeding is another common form of negligence that often results in accidents.

That said, sometimes victims bear some amount of fault for a crash. Another driver may have been speeding but you could be partially to blame if your headlights or taillights did not work, or you forgot to use your turn signal. Even if another driver was speeding, cutting that driver off may make you partially to blame.

Sometimes drivers turn on their high beams at night. Unfortunately, sometimes they do this when it is unnecessary, making it harder for other drivers to see. This could be a form of negligence that could be cited in a claim for compensation.

In a claim where the victim asserts that he or she could not see the other vehicle, there are some important questions to consider:

  • Were the other driver’s headlights on?
  • Even if you could not see the other car, did you lose control of your vehicle because you were driving recklessly?
  • Were you unable to see the other car because you have poor eyesight and were not wearing glasses, or were wearing glasses with an old prescription?

Partial fault is an important consideration in Maryland car crash claims. Thanks to a harsh state law, if the victim is even one percent to blame, he or she cannot pursue any compensation for damages. However, insurance companies like to claim partial fault when that may not be accurate. It is important to discuss things with a licensed attorney.

Contact Our Firm Today for a Free Consultation

Car accidents can cause significant injuries that may affect victims for quite a long time, especially if the at-fault driver was particularly negligent.

Contacting an attorney can be an important step as you try to determine what you should do next. We have helped countless crash victims and are prepared to help you. There is no need to try to manage the legal process on your own.

An initial consultation is free and comes with no obligation to take legal action. There are also no fees while we work on your claim.

We are here to help. Call to schedule a free consultation. 410-907-3957