Driving at night is more dangerous than driving during the day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic fatalities triple during the night due to decreased depth perception and peripheral vision. The older generation (born between 1946 and 1964—known as Baby Boomers) of drivers, tend to be stigmatized as poor drivers prone to causing traffic accidents.
As the National Institute on Aging points out, senior drivers have slower reaction times, reduced movements, and trouble seeing and hearing, all of which affect their ability to drive safely and defensively. There are several things Boomers can do to take the challenge out of night driving to improve the safety of themselves, their passengers, and other drivers.
Take care of your eyes.
Vision naturally deteriorates with age, and many Baby Boomers anticipate this by changing their driving habits. Driving at night is difficult due to darkness and glare from oncoming headlights and streetlights. Add an anti-reflective coating to your driving glasses to reduce glare and help your night vision. Get your eyes checked annually and always wear the correct prescription.
Social media has become a go-to resource for consumers of different generations to find information on the latest trends and products. Baby Boomers can rely on Boomer Buyer Guides for reviews on products and services targeted toward them. Boomer Buyer Guides features blog articles and reviews about home and garden improvements, the best cell phones for Boomers, rewards credit cards for travel, health and fitness products, and more.
Educate your eyes.
In addition to reduced vision, Boomers also experience decreases in visual sharpness, peripheral vision, and cognitive function. Boomers can compensate for these decreases by training their useful field of vision with daily “speed of processing” training.
Boomers should adjust their speed to account for reduced visibility when driving at night on roads that lack streetlights, have hidden drives, or turns. High beams may not illuminate an animal in the road soon enough to react appropriately, which is why Boomers need to educate their eyes to spot retina reflections. Noticing the reflection of headlights on an animal’s eyes gives you the chance to slow down safely and maneuver around the obstacle.
Look in the right direction.
Always keep your eyes on the road, but never keep a fixed gaze or stare at oncoming headlights. Shift your gaze down and to the right whenever an oncoming car approaches and use lane markings to guide the vehicle until the oncoming car passes and you can return your gaze back to the road. Utilizing high beams in rural areas or on open roads can help improve driving visibility.
Avoid blinding other drivers by dimming high beams when within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle, and refrain from using high beams when following another vehicle. If a vehicle behind you forgets to dim their high beams, move the rearview mirror to turn the reflection away from your eyes.
Adjust your interior lighting.
Adjusting your interior lighting can help improve visibility. Shifting your gaze between bright dashboard lights and the dark road can be disorienting. Dim interior lights to make essential controls visible but not distracting. Many passenger vehicles today have large infotainment screens and other sources of distracting lighting that decrease your vision. Dim interior lights to reduce reflections on the windshield and help your eyes better adjust to the darkness.
There’s no reason to be afraid of driving at night if you follow these simple tips. Always exercise caution, never be in a rush, and be ready to anticipate the unexpected with confidence. If you’re still unsure about hitting the road alone, look into joining an educational program like CarFit—an educational program sponsored by the AAA, AARP Driver Safety, and AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association).