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Understanding the Dangers of Situational Night Blindness

Many people spend so much time driving an automobile that it begins to feel instinctive. It’s not uncommon (although dangerous) for people to multi-task and think of a million different things while behind the wheel. But driving safely is an activity that requires a great deal of skill, knowledge, and awareness to do it safely.

For example, a driver must clearly understand the road rules and the operating requirements for the motor vehicle being driven. But the health and perceptive abilities of the driver are also critical. A driver should have the reflexes, senses, and physical ability necessary to understand and react to their environment while driving. Anything that interferes with that ability can cause great danger. This article will consider night blindness and the risks it presents to drivers. 

Driving in the Dark Can Be Difficult.

We all know it is more challenging to drive at night than during the day. That is because we depend so greatly on our vision while driving. 

The Texas Department of Insurance reports that during daytime driving, we receive approximately 85 percent of the information we need with our vision. Without enough light, our contrast sensitivity and peripheral vision are decreased. But some people are affected by additional issues, which we will discuss in greater detail below.

Night Blindness and Situational Night Blindness

Situational night blindness can happen to anyone – it occurs when a person drives at night and gets temporarily blinded by a bright light. Night blindness has happened to most drivers; the best example is oncoming headlights. The light causes the driver’s pupils to contract due to the brightness of the light. The car then passes, and the driver’s eyes dilate to adjust to the darkness. Unfortunately, for a moment, the driver’s eyesight is impaired. This problem gets worse the older we get.

Health Problems

There is also night blindness, called nyctalopia, that is symptomatic of underlying problems. According to WebMD, the following are some of the issues that can cause nyctalopia:

  • Glaucoma
  • Nearsightedness
  • Cataracts
  • Diabetes
  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • Keratoconus
  • Retinitis pigmentosa

An eye doctor can help determine the cause of nyctalopia.

Tips for Safer Nighttime Driving

There are tips that all drivers can follow to drive better at night. Some that are suggested by safety publications include the following:

  • Use the nighttime setting on your rearview mirror to limit glare from headlights behind you.
  • Focus on the right side of the road when cars approach so that oncoming lights will not blind you.
  • Keep your headlights and your windshield clean.
  • Use high beams when it is safe to do so. Do not blind other drivers.
  • Make sure your headlights are aimed correctly.
  • Dim your dashboard.
  • Take sunglasses off at dusk.
  • Focus on driving within the range of vision of your headlights, usually 250-350 feet, and adjust your speed accordingly.

Drivers Must Act Reasonably

All drivers must exercise reasonable care when driving an automobile. That includes understanding any physical limitations that might make it dangerous to drive. For example, for some people who suffer from serious night blindness issues, it may not even be reasonable to drive at night. In addition, if you have been involved in an automobile accident, all the facts and circumstances of the accident will need to be evaluated.

Call with Questions

You likely have questions about your rights if you have been injured in an automobile accident. Please call us for a free consultation, and we will happily answer them. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield handle automobile accident cases across Oregon and can help you investigate your case and pursue your rights. We have long believed that the only way to make Oregon safer for everyone is by holding negligent wrongdoers responsible for their actions.