Car Accidents at Night: What You Need to Know
Are you more likely to be involved in a car crash at night?
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it appears so. Night-time crashes make up a significant 54% of fatal motor accidents in the US. In 2021, a staggering 21,265 deaths were attributed to car crashes that occurred during the night.
Various factors play a role in these conditions, and understanding them is crucial to steer clear of these perilous situations. Equally important is knowing your legal rights following a night-time car accident to ensure your protection.
Almost Half of the Fatal Car Accidents Happen at Night
Night-time accidents account for a significant portion of fatal car crashes. Data from the NHTSA indicates that in 2020, fatalities increased by 7% compared to 2019, reaching nearly 39,000 deaths.
Shockingly, 49% of these fatal car accidents, totaling 17,572, occurred during the night. Among these, unlit areas contributed to 27% of collisions, while well-lit areas were responsible for 21% of fatal crashes. The lack of adequate illumination is crucial in many of these tragedies.
Research published by the International Association for Traffic Science and Safety in 2018 revealed a strong link between low visibility, lighting conditions, and accident likelihood.
Regarding the deadliest times and days, NHTSA data points to weekends as the riskiest periods.
As previously highlighted, most fatal car accidents occur during the night. Also, Saturday stands out with the highest number of fatalities, totaling 1,158, with the most perilous hours falling between 9 p.m. and 12 a.m. Following closely is Friday, with 1,104 fatalities, and Sunday, with 1,006.
Here are the hours associated with the highest number of fatal car accidents on weekdays:
- Monday: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. (757 fatalities)
- Tuesday: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (849 fatalities)
- Wednesday: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (870 fatalities)
- Thursday: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (868 fatalities)
- Friday: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 00 a.m. (1,104 fatalities)
- Saturday: 9 p.m. to 00 a.m. (1,158 fatalities)
- Sunday: 00 a.m. to 3 a.m. (1,006 fatalities)
Common Factors for Nighttime Accidents
Night-time accidents are influenced by various factors, from impaired driving to adverse weather conditions, which significantly increase the risk of accidents.
Diminished visibility at night impairs a driver’s ability to spot hazards, pedestrians, and other vehicles. It also affects their awareness, making anticipating and avoiding potential dangers harder. Difficulty judging distances and speeds can elevate the risk of accidents.
Glaring oncoming headlights and bright light sources can disrupt a driver’s vision and focus, causing discomfort and reducing road visibility. This makes perceiving the road and other vehicles challenging, leading to difficulties in anticipating and reacting to hazards.
Nighttime, especially between midnight and 6 a.m., aligns with lower wakefulness, increasing the likelihood of drowsy driving. In 2021, 684 fatalities resulted from drowsy driving. The body’s circadian rhythms and certain medications, like opioid pain relievers and antidepressants, induce drowsiness, impacting alertness, reaction times, and focus on the road.
Alcohol, drugs, or medication can impair judgment, coordination, and reaction times, making it challenging to navigate the road safely. Impaired drivers are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, struggling to assess and respond to hazards. In 2021, over 13,000 people died from drunk driving crashes, constituting approximately 31% of all traffic fatalities.
Despite speed limits outlined in Section 22350 of the California Vehicle Code, speeding was responsible for 29% of all traffic fatalities in 2021, resulting in 12,330 deaths. Speeding reduces reaction times, making it harder for drivers to stop or avoid obstacles. Higher speeds in reduced visibility increase the likelihood of accidents
In 2021, over 3,000 fatalities occurred due to distracted driving, including activities like eating, talking, using a mobile phone, or adjusting navigation systems. Taking eyes off the road for five seconds is equivalent to driving a football field’s length at 55 mph with closed eyes. This impairs a driver’s ability to respond to sudden obstacles or changing road conditions.
Rain, fog, or snow exacerbate challenges in maintaining control and responding to hazards. Combined with darkness, adverse weather intensifies driving difficulties, making accidents more likely during nighttime hours. Adapting to these conditions becomes crucial for ensuring road safety.
How to Avoid a Car Crash at Night
Reducing your risk of road accidents requires safe and defensive driving practices, especially at night.
Stay vigilant by anticipating potential hazards and providing ample space for other vehicles. Here are a few other safety tips you should keep in mind:
- Maintain a secure following distance, use headlights judiciously, and be prepared for unexpected situations.
- Drive at a reasonable speed for better control and reaction time, and ensure sobriety for clear judgment and coordination—both critical factors in reducing nighttime accidents.
- Regularly check and maintain your vehicle, including headlights, taillights, brakes, tires, and windshield wipers. Functioning lights and proper tire tread enhance visibility and traction.
- Avoid distractions, particularly mobile phones, to focus on the road, improving your ability to anticipate and react to nighttime hazards.
- Minimize glare by adjusting your rearview mirror, using anti-glare coatings on eyeglasses, and keeping your windshield clean. To reduce glare, dim interior lights and look slightly to the right when facing oncoming headlights.
What to Do After a Car Crash at Night
Understanding the right steps after a road crash is crucial for your safety and legal protection.
- Ensure Safety: Move your vehicle to a secure spot, activate hazard lights for visibility, and check for injuries among yourself and passengers. Call 911 promptly for medical assistance.
- Report to Police: Regardless of the accident’s severity, involve the police. An official police report is invaluable for future insurance claims.
- Exchange Information: Share names, contact details, insurance, and vehicle information with the other party. Document the scene but refrain from admitting fault.
- Notify Insurance: Contact your insurance company promptly. For legal guidance, consult a car accident attorney to safeguard your interests.
- Document and Compile: Gather essential documents, including accident reports and insurance information. These serve as crucial evidence when filing a claim.
Consult With a Car Accident Lawyer
Based on our experience, we know firsthand that a driver is more likely to be involved in a car crash at night. Trust Adamson Ahdoot’s skilled attorneys to handle your case if you’ve been involved in a car crash at night.
We extend our legal services with consultations in English and Spanish, ensuring accessibility for drivers, pedestrians, and those impacted by nighttime accidents. With over 100 years of collective legal experience, our civil litigation law firm brings unparalleled expertise to your claim.
Contact us at (800) 310-1606 or visit our website for a free consultation.
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