Driving at night presents challenges to all drivers, but it can be especially challenging as we age, because we need more light to be able to see clearly, and because our ability to focus changes, as does the size of our field of vision.
As a senior, you may choose to limit or regulate your night-driving because of decreased vision or other safety-related concerns. The Canadian Medical Association states in its Driver’s Guide that: Dark adaptation and glare recovery, or the ability to adapt to decreased illumination and to recover rapidly from exposure to glaring headlights, is of great importance for night driving. The partial loss of these functions in elderly people, particularly those with cataracts or macular disease, may in some cases justify limiting driving to daylight hours.
If you are confident in your ability to drive at night, there are some things that can be done to increase your ability to drive safely.
To minimize challenges of night driving:
- Slow down. Drive slowly enough that you have ample time to stop for an obstacle seen at the far reaches of your headlights. Increase your following distance to four or more seconds behind the car in front of you.
- Keep your eyes moving. Do not just focus on the middle of the area illuminated by your headlights. Watch for sudden flashes of light at hilltops, around curves or at intersections, because these may indicate the presence of oncoming vehicles.
- Look at the sides of objects. In dim light, focus on the edges or outlines of objects. Your eyes can pick up images more sharply this way than by looking directly at the object.
- Avoid being blinded by oncoming high beams. If the driver of an oncoming vehicle fails to dim the lights, look down toward the right side of the road to avoid being blinded. You should be able to see the edge of the lane or the painted edge line and stay on course until the vehicle passes.
- Protect your eyes from glare. Prolonged exposure to glare from sunlight or headlights can temporarily affect your night vision. It can also lead to eyestrain and drowsiness. Wear good sunglasses on bright days and take them off as soon as the sun goes down.
As well, glare from oncoming traffic and cars following you can momentarily affect your vision
Driving at Night Tool