Misconceptions about driving at night

by Tushar Mathur

The most common misconception that people have about driving at night is -

The chances of having an accident increase with decrease in intensity of light

So do you really think so? May be, may be not. The thing is that everybody knows the disadvantages of driving at night but no one really pays attention to the advantages of night driving.

I would first like to talk about the different light intensities during twilight.

  1. First case is the one in which the darkness is subjective to your sensitivity and to your orientation with respect to the sun. So some people would have their head lights switched on and some would have them off. This is a little risky (understating really) because not all people have their lights on, your eyes can only see those people who have their lights on, so you are blinded by those lights now and people with their lights switched off will not be visible. That’s the same reason for not being able to see the stars in the day time.

  2. The second stage is much better - now its dark for everyone on the road and everyone have their lights on. So you are seeing more people effectively in comparison to the case one.

These are the two cases which depict different visibility conditions in a matter of just 15-20 mins.

Now coming back to the main point which is - Is driving at night really that bad?

  1. The thing is that when you are driving in the day time you are not able to communicate with the person driving in front of you. You can honk but its possible that he doesn’t hear you. So basically the driver in front you is not aware of the fact that you are driving behind him. At night its different you can give a high-low beam pass to the driver which will notify him that you are close to him and he should not change lanes randomly. In pure statistical sense the information for the driver about his surroundings have doubled.

  2. At night the visibility of a car on the road increases because now a car’s position is determined by its tail lights in contrast to the daytime when its the car itself. How is it better? It’s better because at night the contrast is much more, you are seeing a bright light in a black background. But what about everything that is not glowing? Good question! Actually this is where having some traffic on the road actually helps. If the car a moving in front of you, you can quite essentially assume that the distance between you and that car is clean and safe to drive because the car in front of you just travelled that distance. So you can without worrying travel that distance at a higher speed than the car in front of you. But wait now you have over taken that car and there is another car in front of you right? Apply the same logic on that car also and you will be able to drive at a speed which is greater than the average speed of the traffic.

You might have guessed it by now that all the conclusions are based on a single and a very important assumption which is > there is traffic on the road. So what happens when you have traffic in the day time, shouldn’t I be able to drive at the same speed? Yes, that’s why I said its not worse if not better. The thinking that

You are limited to a max of up to hundred meters depending on the range of your head lights.

Which is obviously not true! As we learnt in the second point that you can use the information which has been used by the car moving in front of you.

So is it really better or almost the same? Well, if I get some time later I would love to do some mathematics to prove that its safer to drive at night. For now at least I am not biased about day being safer to drive.

I can still write a lot about it, I need to end this post now