Driving at night can be challenging for many people. Add in adverse, unpredictable winter weather conditions and fluctuating light and glare from inside and outside the car and you can find yourself in a less-than-ideal situation behind the wheel. It’s important to control as much as possible; preventative measures are key to arriving at your destination safely.
We’ve complied five simple tips and checks you can perform to ensure you can see clearly and stay safe when operating a vehicle in the dark.
Even small smudges of dirt or grit on your glasses or car windshield can disperse incoming light, causing halos, glare, double images and reflections that can impact your vision. Be sure to always properly clean your eyewear and windshield before hitting the road. If you’re parking outdoors, make sure you have the tools available to defrost, wipe and scrape clean your windows and mirrors, so you have an unimpeded view. Additionally, seemingly tiny chips and cracks in your windshield can turn small beams of light into significant field of view impediments; proper vehicle maintenance and upkeep is crucial for ensuring you are best prepared to tackle the road ahead.
If you wear glasses, it is always important to ensure your prescription is up-to-date, no matter what the season or situation. It is especially important to ensure you are wearing lenses that are best suited to your needs for driving in low light conditions. For example, you should avoid certain tinted lenses while driving in low-light conditions as they can reduce the amount of light that you can see and potentially limit your vision For added clarity, try lenses with an anti-reflective coating that have been specifically designed to reduce glare from objects, such as the flat road or oncoming headlights. For certain eye conditions, these coatings are already a necessity, but consider talking to your OD to explore your options for coatins and your specific night driving needs. If you can, bring a second pair with you and leave them in the car for emergencies.
Ambient light inside a vehicle can make it more difficult for your eyes to adjust to low light conditions outside and to spot any moving objects. Turn off any bright interior lights or hit the dimmer switch on your dashboard so that your eyes can relax and adjust appropriately, allowing you to focus on the road. Get familiar with your vehicle’s light settings before venturing out into the night. Make adjustments before heading out on your journey to ensure you aren’t distracted while on the road.
Each year in Canada there are numerous accidents caused on the road by distracted drivers, both during the day and at night. Texting or talking on a phone while driving is against the law. The glare from your mobile device is also distracting and can impact your night vision if it lights up while you are on the road. Safely stow your phone away while you are in transit to limit the possibility of incoming texts or calls distracting your vision or attention. If you absolutely need to talk on your phone, find a safe place to pull over to make the call. In an absolute emergency, only engage with hands-free devices so that you can remain focused on safely operating your vehicle.
There are numerous eye conditions that can affect your vision while driving at night without you being aware of them. One of the most common conditions, myopia, can result in blurred vision in low lighting, and can even affect people who don't normally have noticeable vision issues during the day. Be sure to get regular comprehensive eye exams with your optometrist to ensure your eyes are functioning properly and are prepared both in the day and at night. Always talk with your OD about any changes in your vision and be sure to discuss any concerns you may have about the challenges you experience on the road when the sun sets.
To book a comprehensive eye exam, visit an FYidoctors near you.