The perils of night driving

The Royal Oman Police (ROP) declared that deaths on roads dropped 51 per cent between 2012 and 2017. The number of road accidents in the Sultanate declined 21.3 per cent in 2017, registering 466 deaths and 2,341 injuries as against 508 deaths and 2,471 injuries last year.
Yet, many people continue to lose their lives because of serious car crashes, most of them in the night.
According to the National Center for Statistics and Information (NSCI), 41 per cent of accidents in the first quarter of 2017 occurred during night and 59 per cent during the day.
Two persons lost their lives in separate accidents last Saturday night, while three young Omani photographers died in the early hours of last Friday while returning from a photo expedition in Al Wusta.
Previously, weekend rush was blamed for a surge in the number of road accidents.
For some, driving at night is a pleasure. The drivers of vans, trucks and lorries find it easier to travel at night as roads are nearly empty and they have “more freedom” to go easy on the accelerator.
Those heading to wilayats on the border or the neighbouring countries prefer night driving so they can avoid the harsh sunlight.
“I work in Qarn Al Alam, Wusta, and live in Al Batinah. The distance between the two governorates is more than 500 km, which I cover every two weeks. I mostly drive in the night — after ensuring I have ample sleep — to avoid traffic jam and spend less time on my way home,” said A al Abri, an employee of an oil company.
Driving at night is not recommended unless it is an emergency because it requires more caution. “Night driving is different as many elements seen during the day are lost in the darkness,” said an ROP official.
One of the reasons for accidents is the driver’s eyes would be trying to adapt to the changing lights at the beginning of nightfall or at dawn, according to the official.
Many direction signs on the road are not visible in the night. “Problem gets worse when the driver is exhausted,” he said, adding that in such cases, the driver relies more on his vehicle’s headlights that provides only a shorter visual range.
“In areas where emptiness prevails and there are not many vehicles or people on the roadside, drivers feel sleepy and tend to lose control over the steering wheel. Concentration lapse even for a split second can prove costly,” he added.

Zainab al Nassri