10 Night Driving Safety Tips You Should Know
Driving at night can be peaceful because there are fewer cars on the road and the sun doesn’t hurt your eyes. However, night driving comes with its own set of dangers and difficulties. RV owners should be especially careful when driving at night because controlling such a large and heavy vehicle compounds the risks.
When driving at night, do everything you can to avoid drowsy driving. It can be deadly if you doze off for even a second. Switch off with other drivers or pull over to take a nap if necessary. You should also adjust your headlights, ensure your vehicle is visible, continue to follow speed limits, and look out for wildlife.
In many cases, it’s better to avoid driving once the sun goes down. But sometimes it’s unavoidable, especially if you’re doing a long haul. To keep yourself and other drivers safe, follow along with the tips below. Night driving will be easier and safer if you abide by these rules.
1. Don’t drive drowsy
The first and most important rule of night driving is DON’T DRIVE DROWSY! This is incredibly dangerous because it slows your reaction time and exponentially increases the likelihood of a crash.
Although you can certainly get sleepy during day driving, the odds go up quite a bit once the sun goes down. We’re all used to sleeping at night, so our bodies react accordingly. Even if you drink energy drinks or coffee, you can still fall prey to this danger.
Pay attention to your energy level and act accordingly. If you notice yourself nodding off, pull over as soon as possible. Switch off with another driver, or do whatever you need to do to wake yourself up.
For example, it can be helpful to get out and walk around for a bit. If you need to, take a 30-minute power nap at a gas station or rest stop.
You can also keep your mind active while you drive by listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks. Focusing on something will keep you awake and help you stave off drowsy periods.
2. Follow the speed limit
This tip can sometimes be hard to follow. When you’re alone on the road, it’s tempting to speed up so you can get to your destination faster. But speeding is always dangerous, especially if you’re driving with an RV in tow. You need to prepare in advance to speed up and slow down, so driving above the speed limit shortens your window to react to new dangers.
In addition, your vision is limited at night. You won’t be able to see approaching dangers and avoid them if you’ve got the pedal to the floor.
Plus, you’re more likely to get a speeding ticket if you’re the only one on the road that’s going above the speed limit. Highway patrols are more likely to spot you and flag you down. It’s much better to just follow the suggested speed and get where you’re going without interruption.
3. Adjust your headlights
If you plan on doing a lot of night driving, you should figure out the different settings for your headlights. You obviously need to have a functional pair so you can see where you’re going and avoid a ticket. But you should also have different settings for your standard lights and high beams.
High beams are useful for night driving because they let you see further down the road. However, they’re very annoying to oncoming drivers and can cause visibility issues. Therefore, you should be prepared to shift to a lower setting when another vehicle is approaching.
You can also add auxiliary lighting to your RV if you want to be able to light the path in front of you or make the sides of your vehicle more visible.
4. Don’t look directly at oncoming headlights
Speaking of headlight etiquette, you can’t control the actions of other drivers. Some people keep their high beams on, even if they’re shining directly into your eyes. This is annoying, but it happens anyway.
If someone is driving toward you and their headlights are facing you, don’t look directly into them. You can easily dazzle yourself and accidentally drift 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 markers.
Once the vehicle has passed, you can look up and make 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, and anyone can see them during the day. But when driving at night, your vehicle becomes much less visible. Although headlights and tail lights act as useful markers, some drivers might not notice the full length and width of your vehicle.
To help them out, you should make your RV as visible as possible. You might install reflective tape along the edges or use auxiliary lighting on the sides and back. That way, they won’t be surprised by your RV’s size if they try to pass you. This makes the road safer for everyone.
6. Regularly check mirrors and scan your surroundings
It’s easy to fall into a daze when driving at night. Maybe you’re not falling asleep, but you’re also not paying attention to your surroundings. That’s a good way to miss an ending lane or ignore a merging vehicle.
Even if you think you’re alone on the road, that could change at any time. You should always expect more vehicles to appear.
To prepare for this situation, make it a habit to scan your surroundings and check your mirrors on a regular basis. That way, you won’t be surprised when changes occur. This is especially important if you travel on highways that merge and branch off.
7. Keep your windshield clean
You might not think your windshield is important when driving at night, but it can make a huge difference. Smears and smudges on the windshield can make it hard to identify oncoming vehicles. If the windshield is blurry or streaked, you’ll have to concentrate extra hard to see anything. It will also make it harder to read signs and road markers.
Clean your windshield (inside and out) to ensure you have proper visibility. You should also run the defroster if the windshield starts to fog up.
8. Don’t use interior lighting
Night driving demands your full attention, so minimize distractions in the cabin as much as possible. This includes interior lighting.
Don’t use overhead lights, and keep the control panel dimmed. These lights can desensitize you to headlights on the road, and you don’t want that! Switch smart devices to dark mode as well.
9. Watch out for wildlife when driving at night
You will also want to keep your eyes peeled for deer and other wildlife that might wander onto the road. Again, this is a driving risk during any time of day, but the chances of hitting an animal are increased at night. You won’t see them until they’re right in front of you, so you need to increase your visibility as much as possible.
If you do see an animal in your path, you shouldn’t swerve suddenly. Overcorrecting can be your biggest enemy, especially if you’re close to other cars. This might cause your vehicle to flip or sway uncontrollably. It’s never fun to hit an animal, but it’s better than destroying your RV.
10. Use an RV-safe GPS to plan your trips
For help mapping out your route, look no further than 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 overnight parking along the way, as well as fuel stations, campgrounds, and other points of interest. Get RV LIFE Trip Wizard with its accompanying RV LIFE App, and start planning your adventure today!
Follow along with these tips during your next night driving stint! We hope you’ll stay safe, alert, and aware on the roads.