Dangers When Driving at Night

Dangers When Driving at Night

Although most of us drive after the sun goes down, we usually don’t realize how dangerous it can be to do so. At night, you have to be extra cautious because you may run into problems that wouldn’t be present during the day. In fact, more than 50% of all accident fatalities happen between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., showing that nighttime can be dangerous for everyone. 

So, to help you stay safe, we want to cover some of the most significant issues you may encounter out on the road. 

Some of the More Significant Nighttime Driving Issues

Decreased Visibility

Even if you drive in the city, you’re not going to get as much light at night. Not only that, but your eyes work differently in the dark, meaning that you’re already at a disadvantage when you get behind the wheel. 

What’s the result? You may not notice obstacles in your way, especially when turning and merging into traffic. It’s much easier to get into a collision when you can’t see anything. 

Overdriving Your Headlights

If you haven’t heard this term before, it means that you’re driving too fast to react to anything that shows up in your headlights. Most drivers create this problem without knowing it. In short, by the time you see anything, it’s too late. You’ll either hit what’s in front of you, or you’ll swerve violently to avoid it, which will likely cause you to hit something else. 

How do you avoid this situation? Drive slower to give yourself more time to react.

Impaired Judgement

There are many reasons for impaired driving judgment after sunset. Nighttime is when most people go out and celebrate. Staying out late with friends increases the chance of driving while tired. In addition, when traffic is less abundant, people can tend to get a little more relaxed and a little less cautious.

Even if that doesn’t sound like you, consider that you’re not the only car on the road. Be sure to drive defensively.

Suggestions to Stay Safe

Increase Your Visibility

Keep your headlights in good condition. Most older cars have lights that don’t provide as much illumination. This means that overdriving can be more of an issue. Replace dim bulbs. Also, keep your headlights clean.

Give yourself extra time when turning and merging to make sure that no other vehicles are in the space where you are going.

Use Good Judgment by Knowing When Yours Isn’t

Avoid driving when your judgment may be impaired. Whether you are tired or for any other reason, let a friend drive you home or call an Uber.

Be Aware of the Road and Other Drivers

Stay vigilant. As we mentioned, a lot of people lower their guard at night when there are fewer cars on the road. Don’t be one of them. 

Night driving doesn’t have to be dangerous. As long as you’re aware of the issues that come with it and you’re prepared, you should be fine. However, if something happens, you’ll be glad that you have the correct coverage for the situation. Give us a call at 800-624-3339 or click here to contact us. It only take a few minutes to review your coverage and make sure it matches what you need.

Driving Distracted May Mean More Than You Think

Reaching in the back seat while driving

We most often hear that texting and driving being distracted driving, but it is far more.  Do you realize that distracted driving has been happening for decades?

Most people don’t think about switching music being a distraction.  In the 1970’s it was changing 8-tracks; in the 80’s it was changing cassettes; in the 90’s, it was changing CDs; and now, it is scrolling through music on your phone or mp3 player.  Throughout the whole time, changing the radio station can be a distraction.  Music and texting are not the only ones either.

What is Distracted Driving?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as “any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.”  For example, the average text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds.  If you are driving 55mpg, “that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”

Do you want to drive safely? Driving needs your full attention.

There are three primary types of distraction:

  • Visual– taking your eyes off the road;
  • Manual – taking your hands off the wheel; and
  • Cognitive – taking your mind off the task of driving.

Examples include:

  • Texting
  • Talking on a phone
  • Eating or Drinking
  • Shaving or Applying Makeup
  • Reading
  • Using a GPS
  • Adjusting your music (such as changing the radio station, inserting a CD, or scrolling for music on your MP3 player)

For many people, driving is the most dangerous daily activity.  That’s why it is important to pay close attention at all times when you’re behind the wheel.

Small Changes to Make a Difference

Here are some ways that you can be sure to stay attentive when you are driving.

  1. Turn off the phone while in the car or use your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature.
  2. If you have you receive a phone call while driving, pull over to answer the call or, if there is a passenger, ask them to answer for you.
  3. It’s better to not send text messages while driving.  If you must, pull over to send text messages.
  4. Know how to use your car’s features.  Be able to turn on your wipers, heat, air conditioning and other equipment without taking your eyes off the road.  If you get a new car, park and practice finding using your features with your eyes closed.
  5. When using a GPS, enter the address or location coordinates before starting your trip.  During the trip, if you need to enter information, pull over and stop to do so.  Also, keep the audio turn-by-turn directions are on and easy to hear.
  6. If you get upset, frustrated or angry before driving, take a few minutes to regain your focus and composure prior to getting on the road.
  7. If you need to address back seat situations with children, stop at a safe location.  Never drive while looking or reaching into at the back seat.
  8. Secure your pets. Do not let them roam free in the vehicle while driving.
  9. Get an adequate amount of sleep.  Avoid driving tired.
  10. Never drive with your knees.

Always remember, your safety is important to you, your family, your friends, and to Bob Johnson Insurance!

Driving Tips: Intersection Safety and Red Light Cameras

Driving is something that we all do, and we all think that we have it down pretty well. After all, we drive to and from work, when we go out to eat, and many other times throughout the day. If we were terrible at it, wouldn’t we be getting into wrecks every time we hit the road?

Well, as excellent as you may be at driving, the fact is that there’s always room for improvement. Not only that, but what about your new teen driver? Are you doing enough for him or her to understand the rules of the road?

With that in mind, over the next few weeks, we will share a number of helpful tips and information regarding our most abundant pastime. Whether you’ve been driving for years or you’re just learning how to do it, these tips will help you make the most out of every trip.

Intersection Safety

This is one area that we all seem to take for granted. In many cases, an intersection has signs or warnings to help you understand what to do and when to go. Stop signs, traffic lights, crosswalks, and turn signals are all elements that could be present at an intersection.

Unfortunately, however, it’s this abundance of safety precautions that leads to problems. We are so dependent on others following the signs and rules of law that we tend to forget to do the one thing we always have to do behind the wheel: pay attention.

Thus, here are some critical things to keep in mind next time you’re sitting at the intersection.

●      Don’t Assume Anything: drivers run red lights, pedestrians cross against the signal, and people ignore stop and yield signs all the time. No matter how many postings there are, all it takes is one person not paying attention to cause a collision. Don’t be that person.

●      Look Both Ways: whether the light’s green or you came to a full stop at a sign, that doesn’t mean that you’re clear to move forward. Always check your surroundings before crossing any intersection, particularly one that is busy.

●      Don’t Push Yellow Lights: too often we tend to try and rush through a yellow light. However, it could turn red before you know it, and then you may wind up in a bad spot. Don’t put yourself in that kind of position.

●      Be Ready to Yield: if you come to an intersection at the same time as someone else, you will likely have to let them pass. Don’t put yourself in danger by being in a hurry.

Red Light Cameras

These are a different animal altogether. If you’ve been tagged by a red light camera (and paid the subsequent fine), then you know how disruptive they can be to your wallet. They may seem annoying, but they are there to help protect you and keep you out of danger. Don’t believe us? According to statistics, over 200,000 people were injured in 2015 from cars running red lights.

●      Be sure to slow down on a yellow light. You will get tagged if any part of your vehicle is at the intersection when the light turns red.

●      Come to a complete stop, even if you’re turning right.

●      Not all cameras are noticeable. Even if you think there isn’t one present, don’t take the risk.

10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving

Reaching in the back seat while driving

This month, we talked about avoiding common driving practices that are very dangerous. Here’s a list to all 10 parts plus the supplemental article.

Part 1: Reading While Driving

Part 2: Avoid Texting While Driving

Part 3: Driving with your Knees

Part 4: Driving with Something or Someone in your Lap

Part 5: Driving with Headphones

Part 6: Changing Clothes or Applying Makeup

Part 7: Grabbing Something Out of Reach

Part 8: Eating and Driving

Part 9: Road Raging

Part 10: The Stats

Supplemental: Driving, Teens, and Learning Disabilities — Something You Need to Know

Part 8: Eating and Driving

Eating and Driving

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

Eating some chips or a piece of fruit may not cause an accident for most people as long as retrieving the food does not mean grabbing for something out of reach.  However, if your teen is inexperienced or has a learning disability, the risk of a crash increases almost 3X over those who did not eat.

The distraction could happen when they tip up the bag to get the last chip crumbs.  It might be if sauce drips on their shirt or pants, and their eyes are diverted from the road as they grab a napkin to wipe up the mess.  Moments such as these can be the difference between life and death.

Help your inexperienced driver(s) to drive safely.  Discourage them from eating while driving.

Driving, Teens, and Learning Disabilities — Something You Need to Know

Driving Distractions - texting and driving

Has your teen started driving yet?  Every good parent is concerned when their teen starts driving.

Teaching any child to drive can be a quite an encounter.  When a teen has a learning disability, it can increase the challenge. For example, consider that distraction is the leading cause of crashes among all drivers.  Cell phones ringing.  Interesting happenstance on the side of the road.  Taking your eyes off the road for just 2 seconds doubles the chance of either being in or near a crash.

For a teen with ADHD, staying focused on the road may be especially hard.  Impulsivity issues increase the risk of an accident.  In some cases, a teen with ADHD may be more likely to speed.  Depending on your teen’s unique combination of challenges, they may be up to four times more likely to be in a crash.  (Thankfully, ADHD medications may significantly reduce the risk.)

Other challenges can include visual and spatial issues that can affect perception of left and right, judging distances or even reading a map.  Executive functioning issues affect your teen’s ability to quickly make decisions to deal with driving circumstances such as a missed exit or a road detour.  Teens with dyspraxia can have a hard time coordinating body movements and hand-eye coordination.

  • Each teen’s challenges are unique to them, so keep these points in mind as you help them learn to drive.
  • Recognize the issues and that they can impact all driving.
  • Be sure their driving instructor knows the unique topics that should be addressed.
  • Recognize that it may take longer for your child to learn to drive, and they may need more practice.

Having the right insurance for your teen driver is very important.  Contact us and one of our agents will be glad to help you find the best insurance for you.

Part 7: Grabbing Something Out of Reach

Reaching in the back seat while driving

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

You are driving down the road and your stomach grumbles.  “I’ve got a granola bar in my backpack in the back seat.”  You reach back to a pack that is just barely at the tip of your fingers.  If you just turn and reach back a little farther…

That’s bad news.  Several things are happening.

  • Your mind is distracted from driving and what is happening on the road.
  • Turning your body to reach something in the back seat often causes a driver to slightly turn the wheel and drift into another lane.
  • Looking down to get something on the floor takes your eyes away from the road.

The farther out of reach something is, and the more that a person strains to reach it, the greater the risk of a crash.

Choose to drive safely.  Be patient.  Wait until it is safe to pull off the road to retrieve your items.

Part 6: Changing Clothes or Applying Makeup

Doing makeup while driving

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

There’s an old saying: “It’s a car crash waiting to happen.”  That proverb applies easily when a person is trying to change clothes while driving.  It involves taking your hands off the steering wheel, interrupts your foot’s contact with the brake or gas pedal, and obscures your eyes from seeing the road.  The risk is increased significantly by the chance that you could become entangled by your clothes.

In the same way, applying makeup while driving causes great distraction.  You cannot be focused on your road and surroundings when your eyes are occupied in the mirror to properly apply your makeup. Be patient. Do your makeup beforehand or after you arrive at your destination.

Choose to drive safely.  Change clothes and/or apply makeup either before you leave or after your arrive at your destination.

Part 5: Driving with Headphones

Driving with Headphones

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

There are two ways that we perceive what is happening around us when we drive:  sight and sound.  If you are using headphones when you drive, you eliminate half of your perception!

You might wonder how deaf people drive. Because they are used to being deaf, they are more alert.  On the other hand, a person wanting to listen to “I Can’t Drive 55” by Sammy Hagar isn’t used to not hearing what is happening in her driving environment.  Consequently, he or she will not be as focused.

There are important sounds that you need to hear when you drive.  Roadway sounds let you hear the environment around you.  For example, if you change lanes and someone warns you that they already occupy that space by honking their horn, headphones keep you from hearing the horn.  A crash could happen.

Two other important sounds can be missed when driving with headphones.  Car problems are often found by hearing what is happening in the engine while driving.  In addition, emergency vehicles need you to get out of the way when they are trying to get to an emergency.  Headphones may block out the sound of an approaching emergency vehicle.

Choose to drive safely.  Keep your ears clear so that you can avoid emergencies instead of getting involved in one.

Part 4: Driving with Something or Someone in your Lap

Dog driving a car

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

Seeing a car moving down the road with a big dog head leaning out the back window often causes a smile. Unfortunately, it is common for people to drive with their pet or even their child in their lap, and that is unsafe.

For the driver, they are trying to show care and affection as they pet their dog (or other animal).  It is not as common to see a child sitting in their lap, but when it happens you know that the adult probably has good intentions allowing the kid to have the awesome feeling of controlling the vehicle.

It’s a recipe for disaster.

Having something in your lap while driving is a distraction.  We have already discussed distracted driving.  Adding freewill to whatever on your knees greatly increases the risk of something going wrong.  For animals, they can be unpredictable and their sudden movements can cause a crash.  For children, its simply illegal and unsafe to transport a child in a car without an appropriate car seat.

Choose to drive safely. Keep your lap unoccupied and your vehicle occupants safe.