Risk management

Fleet safety series

Seeing when driving at night

The accident rate during night time driving is considerable higher than during day time driving. One major factor is temporary blindness caused by the glare of headlights. 

Drivers should do all they possibly can to “see and be seen” by maintaining headlights at top efficiency? Do you know that even the finest headlights can lose more than half of their effectiveness if they are not kept clean and in proper focus? 

Several weeks of shortened daylight hours means more night driving, do all you can to avoid being blinded by glare of oncoming headlights-and avoid blinding the other fellow. 

The human eye does all it can to help us see in poor light by enlarging the pupil to admit all possible illumination, but that very fact leaves us vulnerable. When a bright headlight beam strikes that wide open pupil, it contracts instantaneously—60 times faster than it can enlarge—leaving us momentarily blind. 

If we are driving at 40 miles an hour, our vehicle will travel at least 200 feet during our blind interval. 

When we face an approaching vehicle, our first step is to dim our headlights—as a courtesy to the other driver, and as a reminder for the other driver to do likewise. 

If this fails, we can flick our lights to high beam and back at once to dim. Surely they will get this signal! 

If that doesn’t work, our best bet is to decrease speed and focus our eyes on the right hand margin of the roadway. 

By all that’s sensible, we must not “bluff it out” with the other driver by keeping our bright lights on. That could lead to a real mess!


Insurance products and services are offered through Markel Specialty Commercial, a business division of Markel Service Incorporated, policies written by one or more Markel insurance companies. Terms and conditions for coverage may vary by state.

The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.