Think you’re ready to hop in the car for a nighttime drive to work, the store, or Grandma’s house? This checklist will help you make sure you’re road-ready to drive even in the darkest hours of the night.
Are your headlights aimed properly? Headlights should tilt downward toward the right side of the road–so they light up as much of the road as possible without blinding the drivers in oncoming traffic.
Are your headlight covers clean and clear? Anything on your headlights can keep them from illuminating the road as clearly as possible: dead bugs, dirt, and mud, or even scuffs and scratches from years of use. Clean your headlight covers and if they look a bit frosty or dull, invest in a polishing kit to restore their original clear shine.
Are headlights shining as brightly as they should? Some incandescent brights become dimmer before burning out. If your headlights seem duller than they should be, go ahead and replace the bulbs now.
Are your exterior mirrors clean? Streaked or dirty side mirrors can cause a nightmarish glare that keeps you from seeing what’s behind you at night.
Is your windshield clean–inside and out? Polish with a microfiber cloth or even a wadded-up newspaper to prevent streaks that can cause serious glare issues in the dark.
Personal Vision Checks:
Do you have current glasses/contacts prescription? If not, schedule an eye exam now and update those babies! If you wear glasses, invest in an antireflective coating to cut down on glare and make it easier to see at night.
Do you feel confident about your night vision? The ability to see clearly at night declines as you age. Many 50-year-old drivers need twice as much light to see clearly as a 30-year-old. Be aware of your vision’s limitations and don’t be afraid to slow down enough that you’d be able to stop before hitting something your headlights illuminate.
Personal Wellness Check:
Are you awake and alert? If not, take a short (or a long) nap, eat a balanced meal or snack, and then reassess. Don’t risk driving while sleep deprived; some studies show it’s just as dangerous as driving drunk, and the potential consequences aren’t worth it.
Are you taking prescription medications? If so, double-check that they’re safe to take while driving.
Have you had a drink? Or two? Or more? Don’t risk it. Call a cab or a friend to pick you up.
Smart Planning and Logistics Check:
Is your route planned out? Make sure you know where you’re going, so you won’t have to consult your phone or a map while behind the wheel. Opt for well-traveled, well-lit roads rather than back roads, even if the back roads are shorter.
Is your schedule sustainable? If you’re working a late-night shift, are you finding yourself exhausted every time you get behind the wheel? Make a plan to deal with your situation, whether it means getting more sleep before or after work, taking a short nap in the car before you head home, or revamping your schedule entirely.