Driving at night presents a unique set of challenges, one of which is the problem of blinding lights from oncoming vehicles. These bright lights can be uncomfortable for the driver and even affect vision clarity, increasing the risk of driving. The importance of dealing with this problem correctly cannot be ignored as it relates to driving safety. In this article, we will look at the challenges of driving at night, with a particular focus on the potential for headlight glare, and highlight the appropriate measures to take to improve night driving safety.
Headlight glare is a common and bothersome problem in night driving, and it can be caused by a variety of reasons. The first and foremost cause is the use of high beam headlights by oncoming vehicles. On a dark road, the oncoming glare will directly hit the driver's eyes, causing a brief blurring of vision and discomfort. This phenomenon is particularly noticeable at night when travelling at high speed over busy roads or mountainous curves. Another possible factor is reflective road signs and markings on the road. These smooth-surfaced, highly reflective road signs produce a harsh reflection of light when illuminated by headlights, making it difficult for drivers to maintain a clear line of sight.
Wet and slippery road surfaces are also a cause of wobbly headlights. When the road is wet or icy, the light from the headlights reflects and refracts off the road, increasing the intensity of the glare. This is especially likely to happen during rain or snowfall, creating additional challenges for drivers.
Constant exposure to headlights may lead to visual fatigue. Bright light irritation can be uncomfortable for the eyes, and the gradual build-up of visual fatigue can affect a driver's focus and concentration and reduce alertness behind the wheel. Eye discomfort is another common problem. Bright light stimulation from headlights can cause dryness, pain and a burning sensation in the eyes. This discomfort can affect the driver's comfort level, which in turn interferes with normal driving manoeuvres. To make matters worse, headlight glare can reduce a driver's reaction time. After being stimulated by bright lights, it takes time for the eyes to adjust to the change in light, and during this process the driver's attention may be diverted to the discomfort in the eyes, resulting in slower reaction time. This can have serious consequences in an emergency situation, as every second of reaction time is critical in driving.
To properly deal with the problem of dodgy headlights, there are a number of practical ways to help you improve the safety and comfort of your night-time driving:
- Adjust your mirrors: Setting your mirrors to night mode reduces glare reflections from vehicles behind you. This reduces the likelihood of eye irritation while keeping your eyes open for traffic behind you.
- Slowing down: Appropriate slowing down is an effective method when encountering glare problems. Reducing your speed provides more reaction time, allowing you to better adjust to changes in light and avoid the dangers associated with slow reactions.
- Avoid staring at oncoming headlights: If an oncoming vehicle is using high beams, try to avoid staring directly at the headlights. You can minimise the impact of the glare by focusing your eyes on the road or by shifting your gaze slightly.
- Wear night-vision driving glasses: Night-vision driving glasses are fitted with special lenses that reduce the irritation of headlights and improve visibility when driving at night. These lenses filter out the harsh parts of the glare and help you see the road and your surroundings more clearly.
Choosing the right driving glasses is crucial for night driving, especially when dealing with the problem of dodgy headlights. Here are some features of driving glasses that can help you better deal with headlight glare and improve your comfort and safety when driving at night:
- Lens Materials and Coatings: The lens materials and coatings of your driving glasses are critical to mitigating glare problems. High-quality driving glasses are often made with anti-reflective coatings, which effectively reduce the reflection of light and the interference of glare. In addition, the lens material also affects reflectivity, and some driving glasses use special materials to minimise reflected light.
- Lens tint: The tint of your lenses plays an important role in night driving. A yellowish or orange tint filters out blue light and reduces the impact of high beams from oncoming traffic. This tint helps improve contrast and makes road and traffic signs more visible.
- Night vision lens technology: Some driving glasses feature advanced night vision lens technology, such as night vision lens enhancement coatings. These lenses enhance vision in low-light conditions, reduce glare and improve visibility.
- Auto-adjustment: Some driving glasses are equipped with an auto-adjustment feature that automatically adjusts the colour of the lenses according to the light conditions. When exposed to bright light, the lenses will automatically darken, reducing light interference while maintaining a clear view.
- Anti-glare lenses: Some driving glasses use anti-glare lenses to reduce glare problems by reducing scattered light. These lenses are especially useful when driving at night to focus light and reduce the feeling of glare.
In addition to choosing the right driving glasses, there are some other important considerations that can help you drive more safely at night.
- Keep your windows clean: Ensure that your windows are clean inside and out to avoid dust, dirt or rain residue affecting your vision. Clean windows reduce reflections and distractions and improve clarity of vision.
- Keep your lights clean: Regularly wash and inspect your headlights, taillights and turn signals to make sure they are bright and effective. Clean, bright lights enhance your visibility at night.
- Avoid excessive fatigue: Long hours of driving can lead to fatigue, affecting reaction time and alertness. Ensure you are well rested and avoid fatigue before driving at night to improve concentration and responsiveness.
- Avoid using mobile phones: Using a mobile phone can be distracting and increase the risk of driving. Avoid using mobile phones at night to ensure you stay focused on your driving task.
- Adjust your mirrors: Adjust the angle of your mirrors to avoid direct glare from oncoming vehicles. The right angle can reduce the problem of reflections.