(ARA) - Fall is a great time for a road trip. With clear, cool days and less traffic now that the summer vacation crowds have dwindled, many people are feeling the lure of the open road. But with shorter daylight hours night-time driving will be an unavoidable necessity.
It's important to keep night-time travel as safe, comfortable and convenient as possible for everyone who rides in your vehicle. If you'll be driving at night here are some tips to help ensure you enjoy good travels:
Prepare your vehicle
Before you begin your trip, make sure your vehicle is in top shape for traveling at night. Take care of any necessary repairs or maintenance, no matter how minor they seem, including things like checking that tires are properly inflated and the air filter is clean and functioning properly.
Visibility is an important consideration for night driving. All windows, headlights and tail lights should be clean and unclouded. Check headlights to ensure they're properly aimed; poorly aligned headlights can make it difficult for you to see the road, and can blind drivers in other vehicles.
Don't overlook the importance of comfort and convenience. Outfit your vehicle with accessories that will make operating it in the dark as easy as possible. For example, the Access Truck Bed LED Light attaches to any 12V power source in a pickup truck, SUV, boat or camper, and allows you to easily see important cargo areas at night. And, since it can be difficult to reach the far corners of a large cargo area, consider a Cargo Management kit, which includes a reaching tool to help access hard-to-reach cargo, and truck bed pockets that create extra storage to secure items that might otherwise roll around in the bed of the truck.
Look after your passengers
Before setting out on your driving trip, be sure interior climate controls function properly and that all passengers have the proper safety restraints. Infants and children should ride in the back seat throughout the trip.
Although it may be tempting to allow children to lay down in back seats and sleep during night drives, children should be properly buckled up whenever traveling in a vehicle. Put infants and toddlers in car seats appropriate for their weight and age. Children younger than 12, shorter than 4 feet 9 inches, or less than 80 pounds should use a booster seat, according to SafeKids.org.
Do provide accessories like neck pillows, night lights and soothing music to encourage kids to rest during night-time driving.
Take care of yourself
As the driver, you are the most important piece of safety equipment in the vehicle. Make sure you are well-rested before setting out on the road. Update eyewear prescriptions and take all necessary medications with you inside the vehicle so you're not tempted to skip a dose while driving.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, but never drink alcohol and drive. The National Safety Council also recommends you avoid smoking while driving, since the nicotine and carbon monoxide in smoke can hinder night vision.
Finally, avoid frustrated driving by minimizing distractions. Plan your route before you leave home so that you don't have to deal with confusion over where you're going or the distraction of trying to figure out directions while driving. Ask your passengers to take any incoming phone calls or texts on your phone - unless you're driving in an area that prohibits cell phone use in the car.
With a little preparation and a few well-chosen supplies and accessories, you can help ensure every hour on the road is as safe, convenient and enjoyable as possible.