Driving at night is a serious risk factor for new drivers. Familiar routes look different in the dark. The patterns of light and shadow, oncoming headlights and low visibility all add to the complexity of driving at night.
1. Things to keep in mind for night driving
Many states require headlights to be on when driving in reduced visibility or when it is raining, and at night lights should be used no later than 30 minutes after sunset (or earlier if required by state law). Generally, your teen should drive more slowly at night and signal well in advance of every move.
2. Practice driving at night
With your teen behind the wheel, drive some frequently traveled routes. Discuss the differences in visibility between day and night driving. Point out the greater risk of intoxicated drivers. Discuss the possibility that some drivers might be tired as well as the dangers of driving while drowsy. Show teens how and when it is appropriate to operate high beams and how to adjust the rearview mirror for the headlights from cars behind you.
3. Risks to keep in mind
Remind your teen to avoid looking directly into the lights of oncoming vehicles. Even when the headlights of oncoming traffic make it hard to see, drivers must keep traveling in a straight line. Teens also need to keep the car’s speed in mind in case they need to brake suddenly. Certain road hazards are easy to miss in the dark—ask your teen to identify these hidden risks which may include: road damage and debris, animals, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
Take your teen for night drives frequently. The best way for your teen to learn how to overcome these risks is through practice—with you in the car.