10 Safety Tips for Night Driving You Should Know
Driving at night can be tranquil because there are fewer cars on the road and the sun isn’t pressing into your eyes. However, driving at night also presents a number of dangers and difficulties. Owners of RVs should be especially careful when driving at night, as controlling such a large and heavy vehicle increases the risks.
When driving at night, do everything you can to avoid drowsy driving. It can be deadly if you nod off for even a second. Shut off with other drivers or pull over to take a nap if necessary. Also, adjust your headlights, make sure your vehicle is clearly visible, obey speed limits, and be on the lookout for wildlife.
In many cases, it’s best not to drive once the sun has set. But sometimes it can’t be avoided, especially if you’re traveling a long distance. To protect yourself and other drivers, take the following tips to heart. If you follow these rules, driving at night will be easier and safer.
1. do not drive drowsy
The first and most important rule when driving at night is DO NOT DRIVE DREADY! This is incredibly dangerous because it slows down your reaction time and exponentially increases the likelihood of an accident.
While it is possible to get drowsy during the day, once the sun goes down, the chances increase significantly. We’re all used to sleeping at night, and our bodies respond accordingly. Even if you drink energy drinks or coffee, you can fall victim to this danger.
Pay attention to your energy level and act accordingly. If you notice yourself nodding off, pull over as soon as possible. Swap with another driver or do whatever you need to do to wake up.
For example, it may be helpful to get out and walk around a bit. If needed, take a 30-minute nap at a gas station or rest area.
You can also keep your mind active while driving by listening to music, podcasts or audiobooks. If you focus on something, you’ll stay awake and won’t get sleepy as quickly.
2. follow the speed limit
This tip can sometimes be difficult to follow. When you’re traveling alone, it’s tempting to speed up to get to your destination faster. But driving too fast is always dangerous, especially if you’re traveling with an RV in tow. You need to prepare in advance to speed up and slow down. So if you drive above the speed limit, your window of opportunity to react to new hazards shortens.
In addition, your visibility is limited at night. You won’t be able to spot approaching hazards and avoid them if you put the pedal to the metal.
You’re also more likely to get a ticket if you’re the only one on the road exceeding the speed limit. You’re more likely to be spotted by the highway patrol and pulled over. It’s much better to just stick to the speed limit and get to your destination without stopping.
3. adjust your headlights
If you plan to do a lot of driving at night, you’ll want to figure out the different settings for your headlights. Of course, you need a working pair so you can see where you’re going and to avoid a speeding ticket. But you should also have different settings for the normal light and the high beam.
High beams are useful when driving at night because they allow you to see farther down the road. However, it is very distracting to oncoming drivers and can cause visibility problems. Therefore, be prepared to switch to a lower setting when another vehicle is approaching.
You can also add auxiliary lighting to your RV if you want to illuminate the road ahead or make the sides of your vehicle more visible.
4. do not look directly into oncoming headlights
Speaking of headlight etiquette, you have no control over the behavior of other drivers. Some leave their high beams on, even if they’re shining directly into your eyes. That’s annoying, but it happens anyway.
If someone is driving toward you and their headlights are on, don’t look directly into their headlights. You can easily be blinded and accidentally veer off course while your eyes adjust. Instead, try to focus on the guidelines on the road. Keep your vehicle in a straight line and follow the side lines, not the other lane markings.
When the vehicle passes, you can look up and make the necessary adjustments, but this tactic will help you avoid the worst of the headlight glare.
5. increase your visibility when driving at night.
RVs are large vehicles that are visible to everyone during the day. When driving at night, however, your vehicle is far less visible. Although headlights and taillights serve as useful markers, some drivers may not notice the full length and width of your vehicle.
To help them, make your RV as visible as possible. To do this, you can add reflective strips to the edges or add auxiliary lighting to the sides and rear. This way, they won’t be surprised by the size of your RV when they try to pass you. This makes the road safer for everyone.
6. regularly check the mirrors and scan your environment.
When driving at night, it’s easy to fall into a trance. You may not be falling asleep, but you’re also not paying attention to your surroundings. So it’s easy to miss an exiting lane or miss an entering vehicle.
Even if you think you’re traveling alone, that can change at any time. You should always expect other vehicles to show up.
To be prepared for this situation, get in the habit of checking your surroundings regularly and checking your mirrors. That way, you won’t be surprised when changes occur. This is especially important when you are traveling on highways that branch and merge.
7. keep your windshield clean
You may not think your windshield is important when driving at night, but it can make a big difference. Streaks and smudges on your windshield can make it harder to see oncoming vehicles. If your windshield is blurry or streaky, you’ll have to concentrate extra hard to see anything. It also makes it harder to read signs and road markings.
Clean your windshield (inside and out) to ensure good visibility. You should also turn on the defroster when the windshield begins to mist up.
8. do not use interior lighting
Night driving requires your full attention, so avoid distractions in the cabin as much as possible. This also applies to the interior lighting.
Forgo overhead lights and turn off the control panel. These lights can desensitize you to headlights on the road, and you don’t want that! Put smart devices in dark mode, too.
9. Watch out for wildlife when driving at night.
Also watch out for deer and other wildlife that might run onto the road. Again, this is a risk at any time of day, but you are more likely to hit an animal at night. You won’t see the animals until they are right in front of you, so you need to increase your visibility as much as possible.
If you see an animal in your path, don’t swerve suddenly. Excessive swerving can be your biggest enemy, especially if you are near other vehicles. This can cause your vehicle to overturn or sway uncontrollably. While it’s no fun to hit an animal, it’s better than destroying your RV.
10. Plan your trips with an RV-safe GPS.
Helping you plan your route is the RV LIFE Trip Wizard. This online planning tool makes it easy to plan an RV-safe route based on your travel preferences. It can also locate rest stops and places to stay along the way, as well as gas stations, campgrounds and other points of interest. Get the RV LIFE Trip Wizard with the accompanying RV LIFE app and start planning your adventure today!
Follow these tips on your next overnight trip! We hope you’ll be safe, alert and aware on the roads.