Driving is dangerous at any time of day, but the darker it gets, the more likely you are to experience an accident on the road. The biggest factor is the lack of light; as the sun retreats, it becomes harder for many people to see in the dark, even with the help of headlights. However, the following are the most common reasons night tends to be the most dangerous time to drive.
Humans are naturally awake during the day and asleep at night. The presence of sunlight even stimulates the reduction of sleep hormones, which causes people to be more alert and awake in the morning. However, we don't always get enough sleep. Some people even work the night shift, disturbing natural sleeping rhythms. Because people don't always get enough sleep, they often drive while they are fatigued, meaning they are exhausted and may fall asleep behind the wheel. A National Sleep Foundation poll found 60% of adults have driven while they were tired and another 37% reported falling asleep while driving at least once a month. Around 4% reported causing a crash after falling asleep at the wheel. More people work during the day and get poor sleep at night, meaning night is more dangerous because it's closer to the majority of individuals' bedtime. They're also heading home after a long day of work, which increases their likelihood of being sleepy and fatigued.
As it gets closer to winter, the days become much shorter. This lack of light earlier becomes much more of a problem for people used to commuting in brighter light. As stated earlier, people tend to have a harder time seeing in the darkness. Depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision are often compromised in the dark, and the glare from oncoming vehicles can temporarily blind drivers. Even with high-beams on, visibility is limited to about 500 feet ahead of the car, allowing less reaction time for things that may stop ahead of the car.
Humans aren't usually known for their excellent night vision. While we can see vaguely in low-light conditions, this ability worsens over time. For example, a 50-year-old driver might need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old in the darkness. For those in their 60s, driving can be even more challenging, especially if they have compromised vision as a result of cataracts or degenerative eye diseases.
Evening rush hour is usually a nightmare. Everyone is rushing home to relax and eat dinner after a long day at work. Drivers at this time (between 4 and 7 p.m. on weekdays) tend to be more irritable and impatient and may violate rules of the road to get home faster. In winter, darkness is added to this dangerous after-work driving time, which increases the danger.
The last and probably most dangerous part of driving at night is the increase in impaired drivers on the road. Nearly 30 people die in crashes every day because of drivers impaired by alcohol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Add to this equation the number of drivers impaired by prescription medications and other drugs and the number increases significantly. Impaired drivers are most often on the road after dark, particularly from midnight to 3 a.m. (when most bars close). Drunk driving has decreased by about 1/3 since 2007, but the number of drivers under the influence of controlled substances has increased.
If you or your loved ones have been injured by a negligent driver, don't hesitate to call Berenson & Associates. Our skilled Albuquerque car accident attorneys have more than 15 years of experience in personal injury. You shouldn't have to pay for medical bills, lost wages, or property damage if your accident was caused by the carelessness or negligence of another party. Our founding attorney, Rachel Berenson, is uniquely qualified to help with your case. She has certification in accident reconstruction and has hands-on experience in litigating wrongful death, drunk driving, and texting-and-driving cases. Let us see what we can do for you.
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