About half of all US car crashes occur in a six-hour window between 11 P.M. and 5 A.M. These crashes are especially common toward the end of the year when the days get shorter and the nights get longer. If we’re going to change how many people are injured in these nighttime crashes, we need to understand the dangers of driving at night.
By the Numbers
To visualize how serious this issue is, we need to look at the real human cost. There are 6,000,000 car crashes per year in the US. Half of those occur at night. Put another way, more than 8,000 Americans are injured in car crashes every single night.
This is made even worse because there are 50% fewer drivers at night than during the day. That means the rate of people getting into late-night car crashes is much higher than normal daytime traffic. Worst of all, nighttime car crashes are 4x deadlier than crashes during the day.
Combined, these factors make driving at night especially dangerous, significantly increasing the risk of both a crash and a fatality. But what are the reasons for these numbers? What are the dangers of driving at night?
Low visibility is the greatest risk of driving at night, by far. If you can’t see, you’re more likely to be involved in a car crash. Often, late-night drivers can only see as far as their headlights allow, but this creates an enormous issue when moving at speeds over 45 MPH.
Your average headlights provide 200ft of visibility. At 45 MPH, you need 150ft to come to a stop. That means if there’s a deer standing in the road or a late-night biker with little reflective gear, you need to hit the brakes the exact second they enter your visual range.
Now imagine the same example as before but at the highway speed of 65 MPH. At that speed, the distance you need to brake almost doubles to 275 feet, a space greater than the range of most headlights.
More than 95% of Mississippi car crashes occur on rural roads, especially at night. Rural roads are often winding paths rather than straight lines. This can make for challenging driving during the day, but especially at night when there is little visibility.
More often than not, backwoods roads lack any kind of streetlights or illumination. That means drivers are wholly reliant on their headlights, which significantly increases the risk of a crash on steep, winding hills, for example.
Each year, 3,000 Mississippi drivers suffer serious injuries from hitting deer and other wildlife. Deer are most active between midnight and 2 A.M., which means that most animal-related collisions are also nighttime crashes.
Wildlife crashes tend to be more severe for two reasons. If you hit the animal, they might come through your windshield. Many drivers are unharmed by the initial crash but suffer serious injuries when the animal tries to kick itself free. Second, some drivers try to swerve around the deer and end up hitting a tree, which has a much higher chance of fatality.
The best thing you can do is spot the deer as soon as possible and slow down as much as your able.
More than a third of all Mississippi car crashes involve drunk driving. Most of these incidents occur between 11 P.M. and 2 A.M., especially on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. As we’ve discussed before, drunk drivers in Mississippi tend to have deadlier car crashes because they’re usually not wearing their seatbelts.
Drowsy drivers may not be as common as drunk drivers, but they are just as dangerous. Whether it’s someone coming home from the night shift or a driver heading home from a friend’s house, drowsy drivers are responsible for a significant number of late-night car crashes.
If you’ve had a drink or if you feel your eyelids drooping, the best thing you can do is order a rideshare or wait where you are until you’re safe to drive. The dangers of driving at night aren’t worth your life.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a late-night car accident, we can fight for you. If you’d like an experienced Starkville injury attorney from Vollor Law Firm, P.A. to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (662) 269-6188.