When the sun goes down, the risk of a dangerous car accident goes up. Even though about only 25 percent of all motor vehicle travel happens at night, approximately 50 percent of fatal car accidents happen after dark, according to statistics gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
There are various reasons why so many dangerous car crashes happen after the sun goes down. Below, we discuss the risk factors for nighttime car crashes and how fault may be assessed for these accidents.
If you were injured in a crash that happened at night, contacting an attorney is a vital step to help you pursue full compensation for damages. There are no upfront fees with our services and no fees while we work on your case. An initial consultation with a Lafayette-based car accident attorney is also free and does not obligate you to hire our firm to represent you.
Reasons Why Nighttime Crashes Often Happen
Driving at night is inherently more dangerous than driving during the daytime because it is dark, and it is harder to see. You cannot see as far around and in front of your vehicle at night as you can during the daytime. This means it is harder to see other cars, pedestrians, bicyclists and other potential hazards. When it is harder to see something, you have less time react to it.
Low visibility contributes to many nighttime car accidents. However, when you combine low visibility with other risk factors, the likelihood of a crash increases significantly.
Other common reasons for nighttime car accidents include:
NHTSA statistics say alcohol is a factor in about 60 percent of nighttime collisions and less than 20 percent of collisions that happen during the day. This could be because many people who are on the road at night have just left a bar or social gathering after drinking alcohol.
There is less visibility at night and when you combine that with the effects of alcohol, a collision can become more likely. Alcohol impairs judgment and reaction time, giving drivers less time to react to try to avoid a crash.
Alcohol impairment can also cause fatigue, which makes it a lot harder to safely operate a motor vehicle.
Most people do not drive as much at night as they do during the daytime. Sometimes people who are on the road at night would normally be sleeping or relaxing at home. They are tired and this impairs their reaction time and ability to remain alert to what is going on around them. Some people are so tired they run the risk of falling asleep.
Unfortunately, many people regularly get much less sleep than they need. People are so chronically tired that it becomes normal for them, and they do not realize how fatigued they are. This often leads to people getting behind the wheel even though they are tired because they think it is normal.
Most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). It is also dangerous to drive if you have been awake for at least 16 hours.
According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), 60 percent of adults have driven while they were tired, and another 37 percent fell asleep behind the wheel. Shockingly, another percent of those polled admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at least once a month.
People often speed when there is less traffic on the roads, and there is usually less traffic at night.
This is part of the reason there is more speeding. NHTSA statistics show speeding factors into about twice as many nighttime car crash deaths as daytime car crash deaths.
From November to February, the sun sets a lot earlier than during the spring and summer months. That means some people who are driving home from work are driving in the dark. Unfortunately, many people are in a rush to get home, which leads to speeding.
Poor Night Vision
Everyone has impaired vision at night, but some people have worse night vision than others. The older you get, the harder it is to see well at night. For example, someone who is 50 years old needs about twice as much light to see as well as someone who is 30 years old. Some older drivers also have medical issues that make their vision worse, such as cataracts or degenerative diseases.
Assessing Fault for Nighttime Car Crashes
Typically, car crashes are the fault of one or more negligent drivers. For example, a driver may have been speeding or impaired by alcohol or drugs. Some drivers cause crashes because they are drowsy, or they fell asleep behind the wheel.
Older drivers who cannot see as well should be extra cautious when driving at night. They need to obey doctor’s orders about driving, such as limiting the amount of time they are behind the wheel or limiting nighttime driving. Some prescription medications older drivers are taking could make them drowsy. They need to take this into consideration before driving.
Older drivers cannot blame a medical condition for a crash, unless it was a sudden medical emergency that they were completely unaware of.
Preventing Nighttime Crashes
Drivers should take practical steps to reduce the risk of nighttime crashes. For example, people should avoid driving at times when they would normally be asleep.
Other steps include:
- Not driving while impaired by alcohol – you can have a friend drive or call a ridesharing or taxi service
- Cleaning your windshield to eliminate streaks so you can see better
- Have a vision exam each year if you wear glasses or contacts and update your prescription as necessary
- Avoid speeding
- Leave plenty of space in front of your car
- Work on getting the recommended seven or more hours of sleep each night
- Get off the road and to a safe place so you can take a nap if you are tired
Give Us a Call to Talk About Your Collision
Our attorneys have been advocating for Louisiana injury victims for more than 25 years and have obtained millions on their behalf. We have represented many crash victims and have extensive knowledge of the legal process and the challenges of building a robust case.
Galloway Jefcoat is here to help. Call (337) 984-8020 today.