Dec 28, 2011

Night Driving

Driving at night in rain or snow storm really is challenging, to say the least. Not only does the weather diminish your ability to see in front of you, but so do the headlights of cars coming the other way. They are almost BLINDING as they reflect directly into your eyes. A couple of tips about driving at night can be found at Road & Travel Magazine and the NYS DMV driver's manual, but I'm sharing the best tips.
  • When another car is approaching, look to the right (by checking the passenger side mirror or looking at the line on the side of the road)
  • Dim your dashboard lights as low as possible
You are "supposed" to check all of your mirrors every few moments so you are aware of what is going on behind or beside you. Diverting your eyes to the right when a car is coming the other way, you save your eyes from reacting to the amount of light that is impacting them, so when you return them to the front, they don't have to "readjust."

Dimming your dashboard lights reduces the amount of light impacting your eyes. When driving, especially at twilight, you rely on your peripheral vision. The dashboard dials impact that. By dimming them, you can SEE them when you are checking the speedometer, clock, or radio station, but they won't distract your peripheral sight while you are actually looking at the road in front of you.

'77 VW Rabbit
I learned this trick from my grandfather decades ago when he let me drive his car (a '77 Volkswagen Rabbit). He shared this with me because he learned it by being a belly gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress during World War II. They dimmed the lights on the plane (cockpit & belly gun controls) when they flew at night so they could see out of the windows better, achieve the mission that they were on, and spot the enemy faster. Hmm...that makes sense. Driving a car is not about being the first to cause an accident, but about being the first to spot a situation that you can AVOID.

B17 Flying Fortress
I learned a LOT from my grandfather about life in general, but I still adhere to the tip of dimming my dash lights and look forward to passing this advice on to my son when he starts driving too.

I wish that my Toyota Highlander had a belly gun... sometimes other drivers piss me off.

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