Winter’s dark commute a dangerous time for Chicago car accidents

It is that time a year again when we find ourselves more frequently driving at night: When, as winter settles in for the long-haul, it sometimes seems sunset begins just after lunch and commuting home in the dark becomes routine.

But data released as part of Illinois’ 2008 Illinois Crash Facts & Statistics continues to show nighttime driving is a contributing factor in a significant number of serious and fatal Illinois car accidents.

The Chicago car accident attorneys and the personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes take a look at those figures, and advice for safe nighttime driving.

More than half of all fatal car accidents in Illinois last year occurred at or near dark, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Daylight: 458 Dawn:12 Dusk:18 Darkness: 291 Darkness lighted road: 169 Unknown: 2
Dawn, dusk, and darkness (whether or not the road was lit) logged 490 fatal accidents while 458 occurred during the much busier daytime driving hours.

While noon to 4 p.m. experienced the most accidents (91,594) — the segment which includes dusk (4 to 8 p.m.), followed closely with 90,811 accidents and the 8 p.m. to midnight period ranked third most-dangerous, with 39,893 accidents.

Driving at night reduces your field of vision, often accompanies fatigue and slower reaction time, and makes drivers more vulnerable to glare, distraction and external dangers, such as drunk or fatigued drivers.The following are night-driving tips from a variety of sources, including Road and Travel, Motor Vehicle Lighting Council, The Weather Channel and the National Safety Council:

-Use your lights courteously: Turn lights on an hour before sunset and leave them on for at least one hour after sunrise; refrain from flashing your brights at a driver with his high-beams on, this may only succeed in blinding the oncoming driver; use low-beams in fog, or use fog lights.

-Don’t drink and drive. Nighttime weekend car accidents are a primary cause of serious and fatal car accidents.

-Avoid smoking when you drive: The chemicals in smoke may actually harm your night vision.

-Don’t overdrive your headlights.

-Stop frequently for light snacks and exercise. Stop and rest if you are too tired to drive.

-Make it easy for others to see you: Make sure your vehicle’s lights are functioning properly. Use emergency flashers in the event of a breakdown and pull completely off the road.

-Avoid glare: Watch the white line at the edge of the road, instead of looking into oncoming headlights. Use the day-night feature of your rearview mirror to cut glare from lights behind you.

-Adjust vehicle’s interior lighting: Avoid using lights inside your vehicle. If streetlights cause a lot of glare, adjust your visor and/or dashboard lights.

-Align headlights correctly.

-Have your vision checked; invest in glasses with anti-reflective coating.

-Keep windows and headlights clean.

-Keep your eyes moving.

-Increase your following distance.

-Watch your speed: Driving fast at night is more dangerous because of your reduced field of vision.

-Use your mirrors.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in an accident, the Chicago car accident lawyers and the wrongful death and personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes offer free and confidential appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

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