National Teen Driving Safety Week: Night Driving

Oct 21

Night Driving

Night Driving is dangerous for everyone, but especially for teens.

It is National Teen Driving Safety Week from October 19-25 according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, so this week our Everything Driving blog will focus on safety issues that teen drivers face. Today the focus is on the issue of  night driving. 

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Night driving is difficult for anyone, but it is especially true for teenagers. While their eyes are better than older drivers simply because of youth, but their general lack of experience behind the wheel while driving at night can lead to a dangerous situation.

According to the website Teens in the Driver’s Seat, 615 of crashes that involve teen drivers occur between the hours of 6 am and 6 pm. Because of this, many states have a graduated driver’s license program that prevents teens from driving late at night. This restrictions are designed to give teens more experience on the road before they are allowed to drive at later hours.

One of the reasons teens struggle to drive after dark is fatigue. Teenagers need more sleep than adults. Many doctors suggest that teens get at least nine if not 10 hours of sleep at night, but most get barely seven. This is a result of busy schedules, studying, and extra-curricular activities. With less rest teens are more likely to drive drowsy and get in an accident if they fall asleep at the wheel during night driving.

Here are some signs of driver fatigue that you may experience while night driving:

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking and/or heavy eyelids
  • Difficulty keeping daydreams at bay
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Drifting from your lane, swerving, tailgating and/or hitting rumble strips
  • Inability to clearly remember the last few miles driven
  • Missing exits or traffic signs
  • Yawning repeatedly
  • Feeling restless, irritable, or aggressive

An added danger to night driving is also cellphone use while driving. This is a dangerous combination in the daytime, but at night, when you cannot see as well, makes things even more deadly. A recent study from the Washington Post linked cell phone use by teens and night driving as a major factor in fatal accidents:

“A quarter of all teens admit to texting behind the wheel and, in 2008, the highest proportion of distracted drivers in fatal crashes were under the age of 20,” LaHood said. “Teen drivers are some of the most vulnerable drivers on the road due to inexperience, and adding cellphones to the mix only compounds the dangers. We’re doing everything possible to get the message out to teens that driving while talking or texting on a cellphone is not worth the risk.”

As usual, practicing common sense is the best way to avoid a dangerous situation. Before driving extensively at night teens need to gain experience, and that is where a graduated driver’s license program comes in to play. With that experience comes the responsibility of knowing when to be a smart driver and put the cell phone down. Fortunately, more experience will make everyone a safer driver in time.

Travis Miller

Travis has been blogging professionally since 2006 and has been working as a traffic safety advocate since 2012.

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