I've seen many comments in various threads about not driving at night around GC or Utah parks but don't know the reasons why. Just curious. Thanks.
First, it's dark. Dark sky ordinances and distance from city lights make this part of the southwest darker at night than what you or your eyes are accustomed to.
Second is wildlife. All kinds, shapes and sizes. At dusk they begin their nocturnal wandering and invariably wind up along the road sides and in the road. Those that choose to eat roadkill will be right in the middle of the road. Larger beasts like deer and elk wander at a slower pace and leap into traffic unexpectedly. No one wins in a collision. Animals get injured or perish. Cars and people get hurt or banged up or worse. Regardless, it will spoil your vacation. Even running over a skunk will ruin the car and the rest of your time in it.
It might seem like a petty issue, but after you see a few carcasses on the road you realize that something bad happened the night before. We wouldn't all be dispensing the same advice if the danger wasn't real.
Third and just as important, you'll miss out on the incredible scenery that is the reason you are vacationing here in the first place. If your time is so short that you need to rush off somewhere at night, you need to scale back on the number of destinations or stops in your itinerary. Quality time at fewer places is better than rushing by more.
Lots and lots of wildlife. Deer, elk, coyotes and lots more, including wild turkeys at Zion.
If you choose to do it, slow down and have someone help you look out for animals close to the road.
Take animal-car collisions seriously. I hit a deer once, or, I should say, it hit me. It was in the dark of evening, and I never saw it. It was running across a four lane highway and it ran into the side of my car. It hit my car at the driver's door and the window post, and it rocked the car sideways. I stopped, could't open the driver's door, and when I did get out, it was a horrible scene. Damage to the car cost just over $6000 to repair, and the driver's door alway leaked after that.
Take all advice, and reduce your exposure and possibility.Edited: 30 December 2011, 11:11
There's rarely a day when you're on the road on which you won't see several cases of roadkill, usually smaller animals, but if you've seen a car that's been hit my a deer, a cow, a horse or a wildboar, or anyhting else as hefty as that you'll appreciate the need to go much slower than during daylight hours. I never hesitate to drive at night, but I sure DO go much slower. You have to be particularly careful when you drive on the 'open range' or large stretches of the Rez, since cattle and horses are not fenced in there, you may see them right on the road - or not see them till it's too late, as it were, and this is the real problem. So extra-cautious driving is indeed a necessity.
Yes, the animals in the west can do some serious damage when in contact with your vehicle. If you drive at night, slow down and take extra caution. The same issues exist throughout the U.S., including many suburban areas. Avoid night driving, if you can. Be aware of the possible animal activity, if you must drive between dusk and dawn.
You see these comments here because a lot of people on this particular site are overly conservative when it comes to safety advise. Just be aware to keep an eye out for animals and drive carefully. And yes, I have a lot of experience driving at night where there's a lot of animals.
I agree with RedRox and others who advise not driving at night out there. If you choose to do so, slow way down. A running deer can move from your peripheral vision into the road in less time than it takes for you to react and hit the brakes. Be aware that auto insurance collision coverage doesn't cover accidents involving animals. Comprehensive cover is required for that.
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If you choose to drive at night, everyone in the car should be looking for animals. Be aware that a deer looking right at you may jump into your path.
However, I've had closer encounters with deer in suburban Chicago, Wisconsin and Williamsburg, Va , than in Arizona. Be forwarned, the possibility exists for animals in the roadway. Hitting an elk will be like driving straight into another car.
There's an interstate in Texas that has 80 mph for a maximum (I10). It's a straight shot but big signs say it's only 65 mph allowed in the dark. Guess why???