Night Driving

Some police officers spend their entire duty shift driving in darkness, and yet many are unaware of the special hazards night driving presents, or don't know effective ways to deal with them.


Likewise, a clean windshield is vital for driving, whether in day or night. Streaks and smears on windshields can produce extremely disorienting kaleidoscopic effects when lights shine on them at night. Make sure your windshield washers work, that your windshield wiper blades are clean and not old and worn out, and that the windshield wiper fluid container is kept filled.

Headlights cannot see around corners. They light only the path of travel that is dead ahead. When we do turn corners at night, we tend to follow the headlights around that corner. When you turn your car, scan the areas to the side and beyond the headlights. When backing up, only your backup lights are available and on most makes of cars, they aren't much. There's not much more you can do but cope with this reality.

Here are some rules to help minimize the hazards of night driving:

  1. Adjust your speed to the range of your headlights. High beam headlights in good working order illuminate the road for about 300 ft. ahead; low beams for a much shorter distance.
  2. Keep your eyes moving. Don't fall for the temptation of focusing on the middle of the lighted area in front of you. Search the edges of the lighted area. Look for other patches of light that could be cars. Look for them at hilltops, on curves, or at intersections. Where there are many distracting neon signs or brightly lighted buildings, try to concentrate on street level activities.
  3. Protect your eyes from glare. Prolonged exposure to glare from sunlight during the day or headlights at night can temporarily ruin your night vision, while also leading to eyestrain and drowsiness. Wear good sunglasses on bright days and take them off as soon as the sun goes down.
  4. Keep windshields and headlight lenses clean.
  5. Use your lights wisely. Use high beams when possible. Switch to low beams when following another car or encountering oncoming cars. Flash your lights as a signal when overtaking and passing.
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