Late Night Holiday Road Trip?: 5 Tips for Driving Through the Night

  • November 18, 2022
winter driving at night winter driving at night

Driving to your holiday destination during daylight hours may be ideal, but it’s not always possible. Chances are, you might find yourself logging some hours behind the wheel even after dark. 

If you’re nervous about being on the road at night, you have good reason. Unfortunately, driving at night is more dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that the driving fatality rate is almost three times higher at night than during the day. To ease your worries and help you arrive safely at your destination, here are a few holiday traveling safety tips for driving through the night.

1. Combat Fatigue

Preventing drowsy driving is essential anytime you get behind the wheel, but it's especially important to stay alert when making long treks. A few tips for staying awake while driving at night include having a caffeinated drink (like a strong cup of coffee) at the ready, turning on the radio, rolling down the windows or having a conversation with someone else in the car. If you get really tired, pull over in a rest area and take a quick nap.

2. Watch Out for Animals and Road Debris

It’s a good idea to use your high beams or brights when nighttime driving, especially in rural areas or on open roads with little traffic. The added visibility can help you spot animals on the road, or any debris in your way well in advance of a potential collision. This is especially important as collisions with deer and other wildlife tend to occur around dusk. 

3. Be Aware of Visibility Issues

Several factors can impact your ability to see the road clearly. Before driving through the night, be sure to:

  • Get your eyes checked. It’s important to get your vision checked every year, as you may need special glasses for driving at night.
  • Clean your windshield. Damaged or dirty windshields can increase glare and impede a clear view of the road. Make sure to clean your windshield regularly, and get any cracks repaired.
  • Remain vigilant. Lights from oncoming cars can temporarily blind you while driving. Rather than looking straight at oncoming traffic, it’s best to shift your gaze downward and to the right, following the lane markings to stay on track.

4. Map your Fuel Stops

Running out of gas is a common winter road trip mistake, as gas mileage tends to go down during colder weather. As such, a top tip for driving long distances at night is to map your fuel stops before you start on your journey. 

Getting stranded is never fun, and it’s especially problematic at dark during the winter months. The chances of a passing car colliding with you rise as visibility decreases, making it more dangerous than during daytime hours. Not to mention, no one wants to spend a cold night sleeping on a car seat. 

Pro-tip: Start looking for a gas station when you reach around a half tank of gas. This way, you're not trying to find an open gas station when your fuel level is low.

5. Prevent Potential Car Problems

Ensuring your vehicle is in tip-top condition is crucial for all around safety. If you’re worried your car might not be able to survive a road trip, the best thing to do is get it checked by professionals before starting your journey. A quick engine check can spot and prevent problems that could be disastrous when you’re on the road. It’s also a great idea to check your tires' air pressure and tread, which can be particularly important when driving down icy roads at night during the holiday season.

Late-night driving isn't always preventable, but with these holiday traveling safety tips and proper car care, you can worry less. Stop by your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care for a complete vehicle inspection and more before hitting the road. Schedule your appointment today!

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