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What Technologies Can Make Driving At Night Easier?

Cars driving at night with a close up of the road reflecting the various city night colors

The unique challenges of nighttime driving are very different from the ones you encounter during the day. According to research, there is an inverse correlation between the amount of driving we do at night and the number of crashes that occur during this time.

Nighttime driving accounts for only around a quarter of the total time we spend on the roads, yet 50% of crashes occur at this time. This alarming statistic serves as a reminder of how dangerous driving after dark can be. There are numerous new technologies are emerging to make driving at night easier.

Sensors can detect animals or people crossing the road in low-light conditions, retroreflective materials can make it easier for drivers to plan their next move, whilst collision-detection software can help to reduce collisions with other vehicles. In the future, self-driving cars will go a long way to help reduce the risks. Many vehicles on the road today already have safety features equipped that include sensors, lane assist, or some kind of alert system.

There are many common challenges to driving at night, from reduced vision to the higher chance of fatigue affecting the driver’s focus. Fortunately, technology is making it easier and safer for drivers to get behind the wheel at all times of the day or night, and this tech is constantly advancing.

It’s not unlikely that self-driving cars will be able to navigate anywhere and at any time in the future. While we wait for cutting-edge innovations to take off, here are five technologies that can make nighttime driving safer.

Blade Runner inspired edit of Times Square in NYC

High-tech sensors

The next generation of safer advanced driver assistance systems is upon us, and it’s only going to get better as time goes on.

There are some vehicles equipped with cost-effective thermal cameras and infrared car cameras that can detect animals and provide driving assistance. Several sensors are already used by autonomous vehicles, such as LiDARs, ultrasonic sensors, cameras, and radars.

There is no doubt that infrared cameras are used for fleet safety, law enforcement, and military purposes, but they can also be extremely helpful for the everyday driver. There is the possibility of being able to see people and objects in extremely challenging conditions using infrared camera systems developed by companies like FLIR, AdaSky, and Seek Thermal.

Many of these systems can be fit into any car, and there are different options available, which range from relatively inexpensive to top-of-the-line equipment.

Self-driving cars

Self-driving technology is controlled by computers, which don’t sleep, lose focus, or get tired. As a result, these autonomous vehicles have the ability to run round the clock, seven days a week, at a consistent level of safety, without human error.

As reported in this safety guide to driving at night, an estimated 88% of crashes on the road are caused by human error. Cars with self-driving features are likely to become more commonplace on roads all around the world in the near future, and, among other things, they’ll help to remove some of the dangers associated with nighttime driving.

Collision-detection software

There are many technologies and sensors used in collision avoidance systems, including radar, lasers, cameras, GPS, and artificial intelligence.

There are also different types of collision avoidance systems. Some warn or alert the driver, while others override them and take control of the car, to help avoid collisions or mitigate risk. All of these systems are designed to help protect you and your passengers.

A study published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that forward collision warnings reduced front-to-rear crashes by 27%. The system reduces accident rates with injuries by 56% when combined with automatic braking.

This highlights just how useful technology can be in protecting people on the roads, and demonstrates how different progressive technologies can be used in conjunction to further enhance safety levels.

Retroreflective material

A retroreflective object reflects portions of a light beam back to its source. The film consists of polymer microspheres that are laid down on transparent tape.

At night, viewers may see a single stable color reflected back when white light strikes the film. Depending on the angle from which the light is observed and its movement, others will see changing colors.

When a car is going faster, the colors will change more rapidly, providing a stronger indication. A motorist, for instance, may perceive retroreflective materials as brightest when they are closest to the source of light. In low-light conditions, this retroreflective material is found on bicycle backlights and gear, road signs, and lane markers.

In many cities, construction, traffic, and accident information are displayed on these reflective triangles and color-changing road signs. It helps drivers plan their next moves more efficiently if pedestrians are informed about impending traffic situations.

Blind spot detection

In dangerous driving situations, such as at night, when visibility is limited by weather and light conditions, blind spot detection can be an extremely useful feature.

A blind spot detection system uses sensors, cameras, and radar to monitor a driver’s blind spots for activity and alert them when another vehicle is spotted in those areas.

You can minimize your chances of colliding with another vehicle if you pay attention to audible or visual warnings. These systems are typically mounted on the corners of the rear bumper. There is often a rear cross-traffic alert included in the blind-spot monitoring system.

Depending on the manufacturer, warnings appear in different ways. There are some cars that display an amber light in their side view mirror, while others sound an audible tone. Automakers are taking steps to address blind spots in various ways, and this particular technology is beginning to come as standard in many new models.

Seven top tips on how to drive safely and comfortably at night

Technology can only do so much to keep you safe – the human element still has to take precedence when it comes to driving safely at night. Here are seven things you can do to ensure you’re keeping yourself and others safe on the roads after dark:

  1. Make sure the dashboard lights are dim.
  2. Make sure your headlights are working.
  3. Visit your eye doctor for an eye examination.
  4. Be wary of animals on the roads.
  5. Avoid looking straight at the headlights of oncoming traffic.
  6. Make sure the side mirrors are clean and adjusted.
  7. Consider adding extra driving time to your schedule.

Concluding thoughts

There is no doubt that automotive technology is booming and the market will continue to grow for decades to come, regardless of which technology, or combination of technologies, gains popularity in the industry. Leading companies continue to invest heavily in research and hardware development, as customers demand the inclusion of the latest tech in their cars.

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Steve Sharp

I am a digital consultant with a passion for global and local environmental issues. Since graduating from university, I have worked in various industries, but am now focusing on helping businesses harness the power of digital marketing to improve their bottom line, whilst sharing my knowledge about sustainable living.

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