In less than three weeks, we'll mark the shortest day of the year (hello, winter solstice, with your 8 hours, 25 minutes of daylight!). Sure, it's a great reason to stay indoors and wrap holiday presents. But for Boomers behind the wheel, our short days may bring challenges along with the cheer: As we age, the amount of light needed to see well at night doubles roughly every 13 years.
AAA estimates a 45-year-old requires four times as much light as a 19-year-old. A 60-year-old requires 10 times as much. And when it comes to glare, a 55-year-old takes eight times longer than a 16-year-old to recover.
So what can you do to improve your vision behind the wheel? These hacks can help:
Clean your windshield with ready-to-use glass wipes. That annoying filmy buildup on the inside of your windshield can amplify glare. Carry the wipes with you so you're ready for a quick cleaning anytime.
De-fog your headlights. If your car's headlight covers have grown yellow and hazy with age, they can reduce visibility by up to 80%! A detailer can help, but this is a job you can tackle yourself with a headlight restoration kit. Or, for a true hack, try buffing your headlight covers with ordinary white toothpaste (yes, really!). The mild abrasive can temporarily cut through the fog without scratching and give you clearer headlights to carry you through the winter.
And when you need more than a hack ....
Think night visibility when choosing your next car. Certain luxury models (BMW, Mercedes, Audi) offer
pedestrian and animal assist", which uses infrared cameras to detect pedestrians or wildlife before your headlights can illuminate them. Depending on the system, they give you a visual display or audio alarm.
Other, more widely available options include adaptive headlights and light-sensitive mirrors that adjust to conditions. Also make sure the instrument panel has a good dimmer.
Keep your eyeglasses prescription current (get your eyes checked every year), and when choosing glasses, avoid styles with wide side arms at the temples that can block peripheral vision.
Adjust your driving habits. Alter your routes to favor well-lighted streets. Postpone nighttime trips, if possible, during bad weather. Increase following distances by a couple of extra car lengths, and at intersections, turn your head rather than relying on peripheral vision to spot cross traffic.