Hunter & Cassidy Law

3 risks that make nighttime the most dangerous time to drive

On Behalf of | Dec 27, 2022 | Motor vehicle accidents

Car crashes occur because of driving mistakes, the failure of important vehicle systems and sometimes road conditions. Certain factors, like the time of day, can also contribute to the likelihood of someone getting hurt on the road.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the nighttime is when your risk of a motor vehicle collision is at its peak. More crashes, especially more fatal crashes, occur after dark than at any other time of day.

During the winter months, roughly half of the day may involve low levels of light or transitional light during sunrise and sunset. Even during the summer when the nighttime is relatively brief, crash risk increases as light levels decline. What makes nighttime driving so dangerous?

Your biological clock

Fatigue is one of the main reasons that it is so dangerous to drive at night. People who are tired have longer reaction times and might fall asleep at the wheel. For most people, their circadian rhythm tells their body to stay awake during the day and to sleep when light levels fall in the evening.

Those hormones can be hard to counteract even if you regularly work a second-shift schedule and consume caffeine later in the day.

Reduced visibility

The most obvious risk that comes from driving when it is dark is that the lack of light makes it hard to see road conditions, parked vehicles and even pedestrians nearby. People rely on street lights or their headlights and may overlook factors that then contribute to a crash occurring.

More drunk drivers

Many people drink in the evenings before heading home from a long day at work. Even those who would not naturally go home from the bar late at night have no choice when facilities start closing in the morning. Although drunk driving crashes do occur at all times of day, the risk of them occurring is substantially higher late at night, especially after entertainment venues and bars have closed for the evening.