Driving on Halloween Night: Tips to Stay Safe & Alert
For all of our talents, us human beings are pretty bad at seeing in the dark.
Not only do animals like mice, owls, bats and cats see better than us when the lights are out, experts say they actually see better in the dark than they do in the daytime. That’s a stark contrast to humans—we need to flick on the lights to do just about anything in an unlit room.
Our limited ability to see in the dark can be a cause of anxiety and stress among motorists after the sun goes down. Some drivers find after-dark driving to be uncomfortable or worrisome, and others avoid driving after dark all together.
Halloween is approaching fast. For motorists across the country, it’s one of the most important nights of the year when it comes to seeing comfortably and effectively after dark. Below, we’ll cover some important tips and advice that any driver can use to help keep alertness and comfort levels up, and stress and eye fatigue levels down.
Give your eyes some TLC the night before
No, we’re not talking cucumbers or sleeping masks.
Instead, give your eyes some tender loving care ahead of challenging nighttime drives by taking care of them during the daytime.
It’s tough to avoid screen time during the day, especially if it’s part of your job. Still, limiting or eliminating time spent in front of your Smartphone, a computer screen, or a TV (especially before bedtime) can make a big difference in reducing eye strain and fatigue. Here are some simple ways to prevent eyestrain from digital devices courtesy of WebMD.
Minimizing screen time the night before, and the day of Halloween will help your eyes arrive at the wheel that evening feeling fresh and alert, not strained and heavy.
If you’ll be outside during the day, use a set of quality driving glasses or sunglasses, ideally polarized, to protect your eyes. Not only do quality eyewear like this reduce damage from harmful UV rays, they also keep your eyes from straining all day long.
If your eyes are relaxed and well cared for during the day, they’ll tend to work better and feel more comfortable at night.
Give your vehicle (and windshield) some TLC
Giving your car some TLC can help you see more effectively in the dark, too. Assuming your wipers and headlights are in good condition and functional, here’s another helpful hint: clean your windshield, inside and out.
Sometimes, a film or haze collects on our inner windshield so slowly that we hardly notice it, until we clean it off. Even a slightly dirty windshield means more work for your eyes, which will need to focus through an extra layer of visual clutter, and take longer to process the goings-on up the road.
It’s good practice to clean the inner windshield about once a month by using a clean dish towel and about 3 drops of liquid dish soap in a small pail of warm water. Wring this out and use it to wipe in slow, straight lines across your windshield, and it’ll melt away smudges, haze, sneeze-debris and other vision-blocking contaminants in a single pass, with virtually no streaking.
With a fresh and alert set of eyes behind a crystal-clear windshield, you’re ready to go.
By the way, now’s a great time to clean your back-up camera if you’ve got one. A clearer image through a clean lens means less risk and second-guessing when reversing at night.
Safe driver position when driving at night
Safe driving at night is all about making the best possible use of your eyes to see what’s important under limited lighting. A quick check of your driving position can help.
When seated at the wheel, take up a seat position that allows you to comfortably sit upright and in an alert position. Your shoulder blades should touch the seatback, and when sitting in your regular driving position, your nose should be pointing out the windshield, not down at your steering wheel.
This seating position makes it easier to comfortably keep your back upright, and therefore your neck, head and eyes upright, too. Perfect, you’ll want to keep your eyes trained far up the road to scan for hazards, which is harder to do if you’re slouching.
Keeping your driving environment distraction and clutter free can help assist with safer and more comfortable nighttime driving, too.
Start with the basics: you’ll want your smartphone with you, but put it out of reach in the trunk or glovebox.
Quiet the cabin, asking your passengers to keep noise and conversation to a minimum, for maximum concentration.
Save the spooky Halloween music for while you’re safely parked, too. If you’re in motion, leaving the stereo off and a window rolled down slightly can help make sure your ears help your eyes pick up on nearby hazards.
In turn, this makes it easier to gather quality information about your surroundings, which increases safety and reduces stress levels.
Further, reduce distracting on-board light sources by ensuring costumed passengers conceal any glow-sticks and keep their flashlights off, and consider significantly dimming your instrument panel to help you stay focused outside of the car and on the road ahead.
Halloween is a great night to turn off your central infotainment display for minimized light pollution, too.
How to use your eyes in the dark while on the road
Almost there. Now, we’ve set up our eyes, our car, our driving position, and our driving environment for maximum after-dark success.
From this basis, you’ve set yourself (and your eyes!) up for maximum alertness and safety. Now, remember a few key pointers as you drive around poorly-lit streets full of costumed kids.
Keep your eyes up and ahead
First, keep your eyes up. Looking far up the road ahead gives drivers more time to react to potential hazards, and visually slows the rate at which the forward scenery comes their way, reducing stress levels.
With your eyes trained up and away, your peripheral vision can easily detect sudden changes and movement to either side of the road.
Keep those eyes moving
Just don’t forget to keep your eyes moving. Avoid getting fixated or hypnotized by the road by constantly scanning up and down the roadside flanking your vehicle. Continually cycling between looking up and away, and sweeping the roadsides with your eyes not only prevents fixation and maintains alertness, it can reduce eye fatigue by keeping your eyes alert and engaged.
Steer with your nose, too—pointing it in the direction you’re steering as you turn the wheel. This ensures your head (and eyes) have an easier time following your intended path, again adding early warning of potential hazards in your driving environment.
Expect the unexpected Halloweeners
Playing a little game at the wheel can help increase safety when driving on Halloween night. That game is called “Where’s Little Johnny”, and it’s played by constantly scanning your forward surroundings for areas where a small child could be hidden from your view and jump out by surprise.
Is he behind that parked car? About to run through the intersection ahead? Up that dark driveway? Assume that trick-or-treaters you can see (and some you can’t see) will accidentally run into the road ahead of your car, and be prepared in case they do.
In this way, you’re on high alert and prepared for evasive action at all times, just in case.