Night driving can be a challenge
How often do you drive at night? Have you ever had the impression you were being hypnotized by the road? It's actually more than just an impression. The risk of "highway hypnosis" is compounded by a factor of ten when you've been driving for a long time in sparse traffic and are experiencing fatigue while the road seems to be an endless ribbon rolling out ahead of you. It's a dangerous condition and can even be fatal.
Be aware of the danger
Between midnight and 6 a.m., our body's metabolism slows down. The same thing happens between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. We're therefore inclined to fall asleep. You're probably very familiar with that feeling of wanting a nap after lunch. Driving at times when the body is normally at rest can be especially difficult. The situation can be even worse if you already haven't had enough sleep. You may not realize it's happening but your concentration is reduced and your eyes tend to stare at the horizon. You've got "white line fever".
To prevent highway hypnosis, avoid driving at times when you would normally be sleeping. If that's not possible, do everything you can to stay focused. Open a window to get some fresh air, turn on the radio, talk with your passengers (without being distracted, of course!) and be sure to constantly scan the road with your eyes. Every hour, exit the highway and stop in a secure location to stretch your legs by walking around for a few minutes. Don't have a heavy meal that will slow you down even more. If you're really feeling sleepy, take a nap. It's better to arrive late than never!
Adjust to the darkness
Even if you're in great shape and wide awake, darkness can be deceiving. When it's dark, your pupils dilate, which can blur your vision and slow your reaction times if you're in danger. It's important to understand that 90% of the data received by our brains when we drive a vehicle comes from our vision. Here's a tip: have your eyes checked every year and tell your optometrist if you have any problems driving at night.
Before taking the wheel, check that your vehicle's windshield and headlights are clean and fully operational. On the road, staying a safe, courteous distance from other vehicles is even more important at night! Allow at least three seconds between you and the vehicle ahead. Add more distance during the winter. Use your low-beam headlights so you don't blind drivers coming in the opposite direction. To avoid the glare of oncoming headlights and stay on course, look down towards the right side of the road.
On city streets, country roads or the highway, stay alert and obey the speed limit. Pedestrians, pets or wild animals can appear out of nowhere when you least expect them. The faster you're driving, the more space you'll need in order to stop: if you're driving too fast, the distance illuminated by your headlights will not be sufficient.
Driving at night isn't easy. But if you're aware of the dangers and you follow all the security guidelines, you may find it's a pleasant experience. Otherwise, driving during the day could be the best option.