Reduce the Dangers of Driving in the Dark
Protect your vision
With winter's arrival, most people find themselves spending more time driving in the dark with decreased visibility. While you can't change the fact that there are fewer daylight hours, you don't have to be hampered by poor visibility. Protect your night vision by wearing a hat and sunglasses during the day when exposed to bright sunlight. The retina in the human eye contains photoreceptors, which have pigments that change shape when struck by light. This change process is called "bleaching." Very bright light, like sunlight, may bleach so many of the pigments in a photoreceptor that it cannot respond to any other visual stimuli for a while, which means your eyes can have trouble adjusting to the dark. The longer your eyes are exposed to the sun, the worse your night vision gets.
Consider taking a daily multi-vitamin to enhance your vision. In numerous studies and clinical trials antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamins A, C, and E, have been linked with eye health. They help to maintain healthy cells and tissues in the eye.*
There are things you can do to your car, and steps you can take while driving at night, to enhance visibility:
- Clean your windshield at least once a week. Light is refracted through a dirty windshield, which intensifies glare. In addition, a clean windshield will have less reflection. Wash your headlights as well. Even a thin layer of grime can reduce the light headlights emit by as much as 90%. Dim the dash lights. The dimmer the light inside the car, the better you can see outside. Your instrument panel should just be bright enough for the instruments to be readable.
- Adjust your outer (side view) mirrors. Sit in the driver's seat, and tilt your head until it rests against the window. Adjust the driver's side outboard mirror until you can see the rear fender at the edge of the glass. Then tilt your head to the right until it's at the center of the car. Adjust the passenger side outboard mirror until you can see the rear fender at the edge of the glass. These adjustments will reduce blind spots, and prevent the bright spots in trailing cars' headlights from shining directly into your eyes.
- Avert your eyes away from the lights of oncoming cars. When oncoming headlights shine into your eyes, look at the white line marking the edge of the pavement.
- Fill your gas tank with one eye closed. This helps you recover from "flash blindness," the condition that results when a few seconds of brightness temporarily interfere with your night vision. Closing one eye preserves night vision in that eye, and you can use it when you resume driving while your other eye adjusts to seeing in the dark. Though nighttime driving is a time of reduced visibility, you can make it a safe driving time by following these suggestions.
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