by Matt Devoti

When the sun goes down, extra dangers arise on the road. Dark conditions are not ideal for human eyes, and as we age, our ability to see clearly at night deteriorates.

The National Safety Council estimates that a 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see comfortably over a 30-year-old driver. Limited light can affect depth perception, color perception, contrast sensitivity and peripheral vision. From compromised visibility to impaired drivers, there are plenty of hazards on the road at night. In fact, it is estimated that traffic fatalities are three times higher at night than during the day.

To stay safe while driving at night, follow these tips from the Department of Motor Vehicles:

» Get your vision checked regularly. As we age, it is natural to experience vision changes that affect our visibility in low light situations, such as dusk, dawn and nighttime. Some drivers may be able to read street signs clearly during the day, but the cover of darkness may hinder visibility. Get regular check-ups for conditions like macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma.

» Avoid wearing tinted sunglasses at night, though they may be helpful during dusk and dawn when the sun is still out.

» Try anti-glare lenses. If you wear glasses, this can reduce strain from exterior lights.

» Keep headlights clean and bright. Dim bulbs or cloudy covers can reduce visibility.

» Avert your eyes from oncoming traffic. This will prevent the temporary blindness that comes from your eyes trying to adjust to the bright lights.

» Keep your windshield clean. Sometimes dust can accumulate on the inside of your windshield that you may not notice during the day. This dust can catch the light from oncoming cars’ headlights and make it difficult for you to see.

» Dim the lights on your dash. Bright interior lights can hinder your visibility of things outside your vehicle.

» Never drive impaired. Never get behind the wheel if you are under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or any medications that can cause drowsiness.

» Avoid drowsy driving. As we age, our sleep patterns can change. When you get behind the wheel, make sure you are well rested.

» Avoid distractions. Distracted driving is anything that takes your attention away from the primary task of driving. Avoid cell phone use, texting, eating, drinking, talking with passengers, setting navigation and using any in-vehicle technologies.