Some people love driving at night. Night drivers enjoy the feel of the air, the light traffic, and the lights on the roadside stores. In spite of these, driving at night has its fair share of risks you should beware of. One such risk is the effect of headlight glare.
First, headlights are meant to keep you and other road users safe. When your visibility is reduced to less than 1000 feet, New York traffic law requires that you turn on your headlights so that other road users can see you fast enough. However, therein lies the law of “unintended consequences”: the headlights prevent but can also cause accidents.
What Is Headlight Glare?
Headlight glare, also known as headlight halo, is the temporary blindness you experience when you watch the headlights of the oncoming traffic. Headlight halo becomes a dangerous distraction when you are unable to see the road because of the glare. This can lead to an accident.
By design, human eyes do not adjust to the change of lighting quickly enough. That is why you cannot see clearly when the normal light suddenly increases or reduces. Some seconds have to pass as your eyes adapt to the change. The older you get, the longer your eyes take to adjust to the change of lighting. That is why the aging drivers are the ones most affected by the headlight glare. It can take up to seven seconds to recover from the blinding effect of headlight glare!
At night, it is even worse because our ability to see clearly is considerably limited at this time. Add this to the headlight halo, and the rest can be history.
If you are driving, the few seconds your eyes take to adjust to the bright headlights from the oncoming traffic are crucial. You can drive straight onto an oncoming vehicle, crashing on it, or head off the road into a ditch or trench, or hit a pedestrian. If you are an inexperienced, anxious driver, you are likely to cause more damage should be blinded by the headlight halo at, say, a sharp corner.
So, how do you deal with headlight glare when driving at night?
1. Clean the Glass Parts of Your Car
The first tip should be a routine before you drive at night or any time. Always ensure the glass parts of your car are clean before you drive away. The windshield, mirrors, and windows should not have dirt on them because dirt build-up makes headlight glare even worse, for it refracts the light.
During the winter season, remove the accumulating snow and ice from your car roof, windshield, headlights, and taillights. Apart from cleaning these parts, ensure they are in good condition as well. The windshield should especially be in perfect condition all the time so repair any cracks you see.
2. Go for Eye Check-Up
Headlight glare becomes a bigger issue if you have vision problems. If you realize the headlight glare affects you for far too long than necessary, you should visit an optician to have your eyes checked.
Your doctor can then recommend that you wear night vision glasses designed with anti-reflective material to help reduce glare as you drive. Indeed, some aging drivers cannot drive at night without such protective eyewear. Alternatively, the anti-glare coating can be added to your current glasses, and that will be enough.
Also, remember that yellow-tinted glasses or sunglasses are not designed for night driving. As much as they can reduce the headlight halo, you can hit a pedestrian if you wear such glasses, for they can prevent you from seeing remarkable objects along the road.
3. Don’t Stare Straight At the Lights
Usually, a bright light will only blind you if you stare straight at its source. Try staring at the sun with your naked eyes when it is bright to understand what we mean. Most certainly, you have done it before, and so you know the effect. The same applies to headlight glare. Do not stare directly at the headlights.
Instead, deliberately lower your line of sight and look down to the right side of the road. However, do not entirely withdraw your eyes from the road; make sure you can still see the lane markings. Just don’t focus your eyes on the oncoming beam of light because your eyes will find it hard to adjust.
By watching the white line-markings, you will prevent yourself from veering off the road because you can tell where the edge of the road is. Keeping left of the white line will also keep the oncoming vehicle within your view, even if you do not want to stare at it directly. You can then make the right moves quickly should the other driver make the wrong moves. Remember, it is night.
4. Adjust Your Rearview Mirror to ‘Night Mode.’
You should change your rear view mirror to a night setting or night mode so that the vehicle lights comings from behind you can be dimmer. Remember, headlight glare can also be from behind you.
5. Take a Break
Driving a long distance at night can strain your eyes so that they become more susceptible to glare even from not-so-bright light beams. It would help if you stopped at intervals to have some rest, with your eyes shut.
Resting is not just good for your eyes; it benefits your whole fatigued body.
Wrapping It Up
As a driver, you should ensure that your headlights do not make it hard for other drivers to drive safely. You should play your part to help reduce traffic accidents by continuously dimming your headlights when the oncoming cars are within 500 feet.
Again, when other drivers have full headlights, do not do the same in retaliation. This only complicates the situation. You should simply flash your headlights to remind them they have their headlights on.
That said, if you are not an experienced driver, you might as well keep away from night driving until further notice. Nighttime is the most dangerous time to drive. Why risk?
Would you like to learn to drive a car? We welcome you to join Pierre Paul Driving School in Brooklyn, New York.