There may be times when you’ll have to do some nighttime driving through the national parks. Whether you hope to avoid daytime traffic, or you don’t want to waste any exploring time in the parks by traveling during the day, it may be wise to get a head start at night. But driving in darkness brings its own set of challenges. To minimize danger while driving at night, consider the following risks.
Since we’re used to going to sleep when it gets dark, fatigue is easily the most pressing issue facing nighttime drivers. Make sure you’re well rested before beginning your trip. Listen to an audiobook or music to keep yourself awake and engaged (but be careful not to get so distracted that you stop paying attention to the road!). If you feel drowsy, pull over for a nap or have another driver take over for you. Plan the longest sections of driving for daytime, after everyone has had a good night’s sleep.
Without the glow of natural daylight and with only headlights to guide us, visibility decreases significantly. Help yourself out with some simple suggestions. Keep your windshield free of debris that might cloud your vision. Ensure that headlights are working properly so you don’t compromise the little visibility you do have, and keep well within the speed limit, so you have plenty of time to react to any kind of hazards – e.g. animals or potholes in the ground.
Pulling over when you have a full agenda planned for your national park vacation is never fun. But pulling over at night, when it’s harder to perceive wildlife and other dangers, is definitely not advisable. Minimize your risk of getting in trouble on the highway with some easy precautions. Ensure your gas tank is full and conduct a systems check before beginning your trip. Save long stretches of driving for broad daylight, so you can easily call for help when needed.
If you ever experience doubt as to whether you should drive at night, wait for daytime. A few extra miles of travel are not worth the risk if you’re worried about it! If you still have questions about how to prepare for nighttime driving (or your trip in general!), contact us through the Visit USA Parks website. Together, we’ll make sure your national park trip is as safe as it is memorable.