You can be the most competent driver in the world, and think you can conquer anything. But even for those people who are usually calm and collected when driving, some of us find driving at night can be very challenging and sometimes even intimidating. It’s no wonder though; Our eyes are not made to function properly in the dark like they do in the daytime. Some people suffer visibility problems as well and this makes the fear of driving at night a cumbersome one. Besides that, there is something about night driving that isn’t just about fear of driving at night alone.
Night time brings with it a different type of anxiety, which worsens when you have to drive at night especially if you are not a night crawler in the first place. Whether we blame horror movies or video games, most people tend to be more on edge when it’s dark. The quiet feels ominous, the night makes it harder to see, and for some reason, we associate darkness with something bad happening around every corner.
Darkness enhances anxiety and stress levels because, in our subconscious mind, we have this fear that a potential danger might just be lurking in the corner. We can understand this mentality with people who suffer from night blindness, but if you are one of those who is simply afraid of driving at night without any alternative reason to be, then this article is for you.
You may be wondering if you’re alone, and have asked other people around you how to drive in the dark. Don’t worry. I have compiled a list of the top 6 things people get anxious about when it comes to driving in the dark and will tell you the most effective ways to battle these fears.
1. Fear of Driving at Night – Fear of Being Attacked
The fear of being attacked, often associated with forms of agoraphobia and OCD, is a distinct feeling that some bad people might be waiting to attack you somewhere and there will be no one to come to your rescue. This is actually a common fear people have when driving at night. The anxious feeling mostly shows itself in a way that people expect a speeding car to be coming towards them from every single angle imaginable. Whilst it can be good
Whilst it can be good to be prepared for the worst when you’re driving, if this fear of driving in the dark stops you from going out after the sun goes under completely, you could have a serious problem.
It is important not to give in to this fear. Deep down, you know no one is out there to get you. Accidents can happen, but even in your most anxious moments, you realise no one is coming for you on purpose. If your fear is anywhere related to this, you have to keep trying to repeat these thoughts to yourself. ‘I know no one is waiting to attack me. It’s just my mind playing games with me’. If this does not work, it might be advisable to see a therapist or doctor, as your fear could have deeper roots than you and I might be able to diagnose.
2. Fear of Driving at Night – Fear of Car Accidents
The fear of car accidents is the second most common fear people have when it comes to having difficulty driving at night. While this fear is not exclusive to driving in the dark, it is understandable for this fear to worsen because not everyone can see properly at night. Even if your eyesight in the dark is perfect, you will never know what the person coming towards you can see. For example: Nighttime can make it harder for you to judge someone else’s speed, and as a result, it can also make it harder for other drivers to judge yours. If that is not a reason to become anxious, I don’t know what is.
The real way to get over this fear is to take your time. Adjust your speed according to the road conditions. Aside from visibility, this also includes weather conditions like rain or even snow. Try to become a defensive driver, something we have discussed a few times in other articles. Anticipate what the traffic around you might do and make your decisions based on staying safe. Generally, your chances of survival even if you have an accident are high, especially if you adjust your speed to what you feel comfortable with. But don’t bother so much about accidents. Try and focus your mind on any pleasant situation you can think of.
3. Fear of Driving at Night – Fear of Hitting People or Animals
The fear or hitting people or animals with your car is closely related to the fear of car accidents. Driving at night always calls for extra care. Animals can jump out onto the road without warning, and how about that person jogging on the pavement, with his earphones in, wearing all-black clothing?
Again, being a defensive driver is the main solution here. Identifying potential hazards is incredibly important, and the IPDE defensive driving formula is ideal for people like yourself. Driving along a quiet dark road, cars parked alongside, where do you think the main hazards are? Exactly, your main problem zones are the spaces between the parked cars. Adjust your speed accordingly, keeping an eye out for movement between the cars and on the pavement. Expect that if you see someone, they could at any moment want to try to spare your space on the road.
Once you identify potential problems early, you are halfway there getting over your fear of driving at night. You are now in control of your drive, something you were not before.
4. Fear of Driving at Night – Fear of Getting Lost
We’ve all been there at one point or another. We ended up somewhere we did not expect to be and we are lost. Many people have an unconscious fear of being out of control, and getting lost is a prime example of that. Naturally, this fear is enhanced when it is dark, so you may be confusing your fear with a difficulty driving at night.
Preparation is the name of the game. If you are called out somewhere or you are going to an unfamiliar place and you do not know the area, it is extremely advisable to have a look before you set off. Look up the route you are about to take. What obstacles do you face along the way? Also, have a look at your destination. What is the area like once you get closer to where you need to be? Where are you planning to park? Prepare for your journey and your anxious feelings will soon disappear.
If you still get lost, what are your options? Asking someone or phoning a friend may seem like perfect solutions to your problem. There is always a friendly Samaritan willing to help you out and show you where you need to go.
5. Fear of Driving at Night – Fear of Breakdowns
A vehicle breakdown is one of the worst things to happen at any time. At the first instance you may panic, what do you need to do now? You phone roadside assistance and then it takes a long time for someone to arrive to finally help you. The thought of this happening during daytime is terrible, but for someone with a fear of driving in the dark, this scenario is simply terrifying.
The fear of breakdowns is real. There is no guarantee that your car is always in a perfectly good condition. And even if it was, something can always happen and you cannot guarantee you will never break down. The best you can do is making sure your car is up to date with services, fix all issues as soon as you find them and drive in a way that brings the least stress on your car.
The key here is to try and not focus on this doomsday scenario. Your vehicle was fine last night. Why would it not be today? Try and stay positive. Listen to some happy music. You will see that your car will be just fine.
6. Fear of Driving at Night – Fear of Not Seeing Clearly Even With Your Glasses On
The fear of not being able to see clearly is a common phobia, especially with people that wear glasses. It can be challenging to see at night, and if you can’t see, you are bound to make mistakes from time to time. Some glasses, even prescribed ones, do not take into account driving at night and are not really made for this purpose. It might be challenging to drive with them in the best of times. The situation becomes worse if the driver on the opposite lane or behind has harsh eye-blinding headlights that seem to be on a mission to get you knocked out.
To avoid this from happening, it is important firstly to slow down. Do not drive any faster than you are comfortable with. It could be worth looking into special night vision glasses for driving, or even anti-glare glasses for night driving. If you get blinded by the driver behind you, it can help to bend your rearview mirror away. Most car brands have got a setting to turn the mirror down. You will still be able to see, but the worst of the headlights are now gone. If you get blinded by lights in front of you, if it’s not in the same lane as you are (Which they shouldn’t be), then allow a moment for the vehicle to pass and slow down while at it.
As a rule of thumb, for more comfortable night driving, always maintain a speed you can comfortably manage regardless of what the maximum speed limit is. Most accidents happen at night and the critical cases are usually those that were on high speed. Hopefully, all these tips will reduce your fear of driving at night. Soon you will see there is nothing to be afraid of!