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What are the worst times to drive?

Unfortunately, we are in the dead of winter when the days are shorter, the nights are longer, Daylight Saving Time has ended, snow and ice represent an ever-present threat, and driving becomes even more dangerous than usual. The National Safety Council warns that all of these factors taken together make nighttime winter driving hazardous at best.

Specifically, the NSC lists the following as the worst times for you to drive:

  • Evening rush hour (4 p.m. to 7 p,m., especially on Fridays)
  • Very early morning hours (midnight to 2 a.m., especially on weekends)
  • Nighttime hours (4 a.m. to 6 a.m.)

Most vehicle crashes occur at these times because the lack of daylight makes drivers drowsy and more likely to drive erratically or even fall asleep at the wheel. Keep in mind that when driving with your low beams on, as required with most city driving, you can see only about 250 feet in front of you. Even your high beams give you only about 500 feet of visibility.

In addition, the older you get, the more difficult it becomes for you to see at night. For instance, at age 50 you probably need twice as much light to see as well as you did at age 30. After age 60, you may develop cataracts or other degenerative eye conditions that compromise your night vision even more. You could even become subject to night blindness.

As you might expect, if you must drive between midnight and 2 a.m. on a Saturday or Sunday, you will share the road with numerous impaired or semi-impaired drivers. Why? Because most of the restaurants and bars tend to close about this time and some of their patrons will make the unwise decision to get behind the wheel after consuming too much alcohol. While they believe they can make it home safely, in actuality they pose a danger to themselves and others, including you.

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