The Dangers of Night Driving in Florida
Bill Allen | February 9, 2024 | Car Accident Lawyer Near Gainesville Florida
From the warm, sunny beaches to the bustling nightlife, Florida is a state of contrasting lifestyles and 24-hour living. The setting sun may mark the end of the workday or signify the perfect time for a beachside bonfire, but it also brings unique hazards if you’re going to be on the road.
Whether you’re a long-time resident or just visiting the Sunshine State, knowing about night driving in Florida and how to reduce your risk of getting in a car accident is crucial.
Many factors increase the risk of driving at night. Some factors make it harder for you to recognize hazards and react appropriately. Other risks come from other drivers on the road.
While driving at night, you are more likely to share the road with drunk drivers. Nearly one-third of traffic deaths involve impaired drivers. In 2020, drunk drivers were involved in three times more fatal accidents at night than during daylight hours.
Drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. A driver who is tired is three times more likely to get into an accident than a rested driver. Drowsy driving is a factor in about 21% of fatal crashes.
Shockingly, a National Sleep Foundation survey found that 19% of drivers admitted to driving while very tired at least once in the past month. 37% of adults have fallen asleep behind the wheel.
Compromised Night Vision
Night vision, or the ability to see well enough in low-light environments, decreases with age. A driver in their 50s may need twice the amount of light to see as well as someone in their 30s. Night blindness (nyctalopia) is also common and causes poor vision in dim light. It can be caused by a vitamin A deficiency and many other conditions.
Vision problems become even more common after 60. Seniors often have trouble seeing at night, adapting to headlight glare, seeing up-close objects, reading road signs, and recognizing colors.
Along with potentially compromised night vision, all drivers deal with reduced visibility when it’s dark. It takes the eyes many hours to completely acclimate to low light conditions and reach proper sensitivity. Headlights only illuminate about 250 feet, or 500 feet, with high beams. This is much less than what you can see in daylight.
Even worse, an IIHS study found just one in three headlight systems tested on model 2022 vehicles received a good rating. Nearly 40% were rated poor or marginal due to excessive glare from oncoming low beams or inadequate visibility.
Reduced visibility at night means less time to see and react to hazards.
Driving at Night Is 11 Times More Deadly Than Driving During Daylight Hours In Florida
Overall, about 9% of our driving happens between sunset and sunrise, yet 49% of fatal accidents happen during these hours.
The peak time for car accidents is 4 pm to 8 pm, but fatal crashes peak between 8 pm and 12 am most of the year. The peak time for non-fatal accidents is noon to 4 pm. Saturday night is the most dangerous time to be on the road, according to the National Safety Council.
In 2022, most fatal crashes in Florida happened on a Saturday. 424 traffic deaths occurred on Saturdays between 7 pm and 7 am. Just 227 deaths happened between 7 am and 7 pm, even though there are many more drivers on the road during daylight hours. Sunday had the second-highest number of fatalities.
Night driving is more dangerous in some states than others. Florida was ranked the third most dangerous state for driving at night, behind California and Hawaii. While night driving is overall nine times more deadly than daytime driving, it’s 11.2 times more deadly in Florida.
Tips for Safe Driving at Night
These tips can help you stay safe when you need to be on the road at night:
- Make sure your headlights are adjusted to the correct level to optimize visibility and avoid blinding other drivers
- Dim your dashboard lights at night
- Make sure your windshield is clean without smudges or dirt that reduce visibility at night
- To avoid being blinded by oncoming headlights, focus on the white line at the right edge of the road until the car passes
- Increase following distance at night to give yourself time to react if another driver is impaired or fatigued
- Pull off the road and take a break if you start to feel tired – it’s easier to fall asleep behind the wheel than you may think
If you have been injured in a nighttime accident by a drunk or negligent driver, consult an attorney as soon as possible.
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