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Why Shouldn’t You Start a Road Trip Late in the Night? 7 Eye-opening Reasons it’s Bad

Why Shouldn’t You Start a Road Trip Late in the Night? 7 Eye-opening Reasons it’s Bad : Directory

Why Shouldn't You Start a Road Trip Late in the Night



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One question we often get is, “Why shouldn’t you start a road trip late in the night?” This is really personal preference, but let’s look at 7 reasons why starting a road trip late in the night is a bad idea. 

Hitting the open for an epic road trip is a dream most people develop during their teen years. It’s a thrilling experience that has been glorified in major motion pictures like Rat Race, Thelma and Louise, National Lampoon’s Vacation and of course, Road Trip.

A road trip conjures up images of adventure and discovery as you head into unknown territory. 

We totally understand why someone would want to start a road trip late in the night. 

  • You’re not wasting daylight driving when you could be enjoying the next destination
  • There will be less traffic, especially when leaving a major metropolitan area
  • It’s not as hot during the summer months when road trips are more common

Is it Bad to Drive Around at Night?

There is nothing inherently bad about driving at night, but there are a few factors that you may want to consider before doing it.

At first, the idea of setting off into the night may seem romantic, adventurous or time saving, but there are several important considerations to keep in mind before choosing to start a road trip late at night.

In this article, we’ll explore 7 reasons why starting a road trip late at night may not be advisable. It’s best to prioritizing safety and effective trip planning is essential for a smooth and enjoyable journey.

1. Increased Risk of Fatigue

sleepy driver

Driving while exhausted is one of the leading causes of accidents on the road, and starting a road trip late at night significantly increases the risk of driver fatigue. 

As you continue driving into the night, your natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, signals your body to wind down and prepare for sleep. This can lead to feelings of drowsiness and reduced alertness, making it difficult to stay focused on the task of driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driving while fatigued is comparable to driving under the influence of alcohol in terms of impairment. Drowsy drivers experience slower reaction times and decreased cognitive function just like if they had just left the bar.

2. Reduced Visibility

Another significant concern when starting a road trip late at night is the issue of reduced visibility. Darkness can impair visibility and make it harder to see obstacles on the road, increasing the risk of accidents. 

limited visibility

In addition to reduced visibility, driving in the dark can also make it more challenging to gauge distances and speeds. This can lead to potential misjudgments and errors in judgment. This is particularly true on poorly lit roads or in rural areas where street lighting may be limited.

Additionally, there is nothing worse than the glare from oncoming headlights and the lack of ambient light can further hamper visibility. 

This makes it difficult to see hazards such as potholes, debris, or wildlife on the road ahead.

3. Limited Access to Services

One of the practical challenges of starting a road trip late at night is the limited access to services along the way. Many businesses and services, such as gas stations, restaurants, and rest areas, may be closed or operating on reduced hours during late-night hours. 

This can make it difficult to find open facilities for fueling up, grabbing a meal, or taking breaks along the route. In remote or rural areas, the lack of available services may be even more pronounced, leaving travelers with few options for rest stops or assistance in the event of an emergency. 

Planning ahead and ensuring access to essential services is crucial for a smooth and stress-free road trip experience.

4. Higher Likelihood of Accidents at Night

Driving at night poses additional risks compared to daytime driving, including a higher likelihood of accidents. Factors such as reduced visibility, fatigue, and impaired driving can all contribute to an increased risk of collisions and other traffic incidents. 

car accident at night

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), fatal crash rates are three times higher at night compared to daytime hours. A significant portion of these crashes can be attributed to driver error or impairment. 

And starting a road trip late at night only amplifies these risks. Many drivers may already be fatigued from a stressful day at work, a full day of activities or you may encounter additional hazards on the road during nighttime hours. 

Staying vigilant and practicing defensive driving techniques can help mitigate these risks. You are best off avoiding late-night driving altogether. This may be the safest course of action.

5. Lack of Availability of Assistance

In the event of an emergency or breakdown during a late-night road trip, finding assistance may prove challenging. Many roadside assistance services, repair shops, and towing companies operate on limited hours. Travelers can get left stranded, facing long wait times for help or get hit with ridiculous “after-hours” fees during late-night hours. 

This lack of availability can aggravate an already stressful situation and may result in delays in getting the necessary assistance. Additionally, remote or rural areas may have even fewer options for assistance, further complicating matters for travelers in need. 

Plan ahead and be prepared for emergencies. Carrying essential supplies, such as a spare tire, emergency kit, and roadside assistance contact information, is essential for staying safe on the road.

6. Increased Risk of Wildlife Collisions

a deer in headlights

Driving at night increases the risk of collisions with wildlife. Many animals are nocturnal and are more active during late-night hours. Deer, elk, and other large animals are known to graze near roadways, especially in rural or wooded areas, posing a significant hazard to drivers. 

Collisions with wildlife can result in serious injuries and damage to vehicles, particularly at higher speeds. The reduced visibility and reaction time associated with nighttime driving further compound the risk of wildlife collisions. This makes it essential for drivers to remain vigilant and watch for signs of wildlife activity along the roadside. 

Taking precautions such as reducing speed, using high beams when appropriate, and staying alert can help reduce the risk of wildlife collisions during late-night road trips.

7. Greater Chance of Encountering Fatigued or Impaired Drivers

impaired drivers are a good reason to not drive at night

Not only do late-night road trips increase your chances of a collision with wildlife, it increases the likelihood of encountering other fatigued or impaired drivers on the road. Many drivers may be returning home from long days at work or late-night social events, leading to increased instances of drowsy or impaired driving during nighttime hours. 

These drivers may exhibit erratic behavior, such as swerving between lanes or driving at inconsistent speeds, posing a danger to themselves and others on the road. 

Additionally, impaired drivers may be less likely to react appropriately to hazards or changing road conditions, further increasing the risk of accidents. 

Staying alert and practicing defensive driving techniques can help mitigate the risks posed by other fatigued or impaired drivers on the road.

Why Shouldn’t You Start a Road Trip Late in the Night?: Final Considerations

While embarking on a road trip can be an exciting and memorable experience, starting your journey late at night comes with its own set of risks and challenges. 

From increased fatigue and reduced visibility to limited access to services and the heightened risk of accidents, there are several compelling reasons to reconsider starting a road trip late at night. 

By prioritizing safety and effective trip planning, including starting your journey during daylight hours whenever possible, you can help ensure a smoother and safer road trip experience for yourself and your passengers.

With that being said, if you are well rested and haven’t been up all day preparing for your road trip, there is something peaceful about cruising a lonely highway at night.

If anyone asks, “Why shouldn’t you start a road trip late in the night” please direct them to this article.

Remember to stay vigilant, stay rested, and stay safe on the road.

If you like a good road trip you may also like our post, “Free Camping in the United States.

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