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Driving at night is quite a risky situation and the oncoming vehicle scenario is one of the scariest driving scenarios for many drivers. However, once you know what to do when approaching another vehicle at night, you have almost nothing to worry about. If you have ever asked yourself – when meeting an oncoming vehicle at night what should a driver do? This article is for you as it will show you what to do when you meet oncoming vehicles at night in order to stay safe.
Glare from oncoming vehicles can be avoided by looking toward the right side of the road you are driving on while maintaining vision on the road and the oncoming vehicle through the corner of your left eye. You can also dip your headlights as soon as you no longer risk dazzling the driver of the oncoming vehicle.
In the rest of the post, I will be sharing driving tips when you see oncoming vehicles, managing night driving with oncoming vehicles and things you can do when you see oncoming vehicles approaching you as a driver.
When meeting an oncoming vehicle at night
Glare from oncoming vehicles can impair ones driving performance, especially when there are bright lights involved. When meeting a vehicle at night, don’t stare directly into the other driver’s headlights, just reduce your speed to allow you time for emergency action, then look towards the verge and follow the vehicle with the corner of your eyes until they pass. Then you can resume your normal speed.
Is the oncoming vehicle on a single-track road?
If you meet an oncoming vehicle on a single-track road, you should slow down to let the oncoming vehicle pass you safely. There is no need to overtake. You can only go on if the vehicle itself stops for you to go first.
Is the oncoming vehicle having one headlight on?
If at night you notice that the oncoming vehicle is having only one headlight, slow down, maintain your lane, keep a firm grip on the wheels and be ready to move gently to the right if you notice they are coming too close to your side. Try not to cross out of your lane at all times to avoid sudden surprises.
How do you reduce nighttime glare from oncoming vehicles when driving?
Glare is caused by bright light entering your eye and your eye isn’t prepared to manage it. It is distracting, irritating and reduces your reaction time. Glare from oncoming vehicles and the dark, wet pavement that reflect lights beside the road can cause discomfort or distraction for the driver.
The best way to reduce nighttime glare from oncoming vehicles or other places is to reduce driving speed, be on alert and even wear polarized, anti-glare glasses. These glasses reduce the glare from lights that can get into your eyes while driving at night, and they can also help reduce the glare from the sun. You can also reduce glare by using a windshield washer fluid, like this Invisible Glass Treatment, this Sonax Glass Cleaner & Kit or this Polarized Windshield Protector; which are all specifically designed to reduce nighttime glare.
How to meet oncoming vehicles at night: driving tips
When an oncoming vehicle is approaching at night, as the driver you should:
Look in the right direction:
Look in the right direction to avoid being blinded by oncoming headlights. Shift your eyes down and to the right when approaching an oncoming vehicle. Quickly lift your gaze back up when you have passed the oncoming vehicle.
Be on alert:
Staying on alert while driving at night helps you avoid emergency situations with oncoming vehicles. Driving at night does not require you to relax at any point even if you are on a lonely road. Remaining on alert would help you act quickly if you see an oncoming vehicle doing something wrong.
Reduce your speed:
It is safer to slow down and make sure it is safe to pass when you have an oncoming vehicle, especially with bright lights. There is just no need to overtake. This is important because (1) You would have enough time to react when something is trying to get out of hand and (2) You would still maintain the correct lane and have control over the vehicle even though lights from the oncoming vehicle got into your eyes.
Pass the vehicle on the right:
When there is a vehicle coming in front of you, it is safer to pass them on the right. This helps when they flashed bright lights in your eyes and you are stunned for a moment. Just steer towards the right, that is, away from the vehicle’s headlights. If your eyes are too dazzled from the lights at first, park and let them recover.
Improvise when necessary:
When you are driving at night and you are struggling with seeing the oncoming vehicle for different reasons, you can reduce the problem of glare from the headlights of oncoming vehicles by using a wide-angle mirror.
Let them know you are coming
The action you should take to avoid the glare of oncoming headlights when driving at night is to use a blinker on your car and not use your headlights whenever possible. The reason behind this is that it will alert the other driver of your presence and they will have time to react and not hit you head-on.
Take care of your eyes:
When you are older or have an eye defect, protect your eyes with an anti-glare glass while driving at night or quit driving at night entirely. In fact, everyone needs to adhere to this regardless of age and condition because what affects one can affect all.
Ensure you can stop:
If you are driving at night, it is important that you make sure that your vehicle can stop. If your vehicle is faulty and cannot stop at any point, as a result of brake failure or something, do not bother to take it out at night. You need it to work properly and be able to stop when necessary. This would help you when there is an immediate action to take or when you need to stop and let your eyes readjust.
Manage reduced visibility the right way. You should always keep your headlights on when approaching another vehicle at night to make it easier for you to see the other vehicle and for them to see you. When visibility is reduced, switch to low beam headlights as this makes you a safer driver. If the oncoming vehicle does not dim its lights, still maintain your low beams as high beams would only blind the other driver and increase the likelihood of a collision.
Watch out for pedestrians, bicycles, wildlife and other obstacles:
Most times, you would have to consider not only the oncoming vehicle but also pedestrians, bicycles, wildlife and other obstacles. This is very important in case there is a need to slide to the side to avoid colliding with the oncoming vehicle. Just a quick glance at the mirrors and out the windows will let you know if there are other things or objects you need to look out for in case of any sudden movement.
Glare becomes more challenging the older you get
Glare becomes more difficult to handle as we age, due to less flexible eyes and clouded corneas. Cataracts, glaucoma, retinal problems, and other serious conditions can develop if glare is a problem for drivers. Driving at night or under poor weather conditions can make the situation worse. If you are an elderly person or you struggle with an eye problem, best to avoid driving at night or get anti-glare glasses.
In conclusion, the driver should make sure their high beams are off when meeting another vehicle during nighttime. This is the best way to ensure safe and enjoyable driving for both parties.