Night Driving Tips

Short days and long winters mean driving at night is an unavoidable reality for most drivers in the country; though the roads are quieter, road casualty statistics show 40% of collisions occur after dark.

As we age our eyesight naturally diminishes, making driving at night challenging even for drivers who have been behind the wheel more than 40 years. Even on the most familiar routes, reduced vision means we’re more prone to missing vulnerable road users and falling asleep at the wheel.

The good news is there are things you can do to reduce your risk of being involved in an accident and feel safe and confident on the road. Here’s our best night driving tips to help you on the go.

Plan your route

The easiest way to say safe after dark is to avoid night driving altogether, but in many circumstances that’s just not an option. If you’re travelling on unfamiliar roads after dark, take some time to plan your journey before you go, familiarising yourself with the route and noticing any areas you might run into difficulty. Stick to main roads where lighting is better and plan extra time so you can slow down or stop for a short break if necessary.

Slow down

Reduced visibility means it’s more difficult to judge speed and distance in the dark. When our depth perception is altered it can be hard to distinguish 5 metres from 50. The best thing to do is slow down and keep a safe distance from other traffic on the road; don’t take unnecessary risks and avoid passing on dark roads where you have less than full visibility.

Turn on your headlights

Just before sunset, make a point of turning on your headlights so it’s easier for other drivers to see you during twilight. As natural light fades, keep all interior lights off and always ensure exterior lights are clean and working properly.

Use full beam

Your full beam headlights are an indispensable tool when driving on rural roads at night, so don’t forget to take advantage of them on dark patches of road. Full beam headlights are distracting for other drivers, however – be sure not to dazzle other drivers by switching off full beams as soon as another car comes into view.

Avoid dazzle

Almost every driver has had the experience of driving straight into the blinding glare of full beam headlights. In most cases the oncoming driver will notice your car and quickly switch them off – if, however, you are faced with another road user driving toward you with full beams, be sure not to look directly at the headlights. Keep your attention instead on the left-hand curb ahead of you and maintain a slow, steady speed until the car passes.

Clean your windows

Dirty windows can amplify the glare from other vehicles and steam up faster than clean windows. Make sure your windows are clean inside and out and free from streaks. Particularly when driving on a wet road where there is already glare, dirty windows can be distracting. Keep a small cloth in your boot or glove box to wipe windows if you run into trouble.

Look ahead

As a driver you should always be aware of your surroundings, but this is especially true when driving at night when we don’t always notice hazards on the road until it’s too late. Scan the road ahead for signs of other drivers – a glimmer of light could be a car up ahead or around a bend. Pay special attention to the roadside for cyclists and pedestrians and slow down when moving through intersections or town centres where more people are likely to be. In rural areas, also be mindful of animals on the road; keep a slow speed and be aware of any cars behind you and making sudden stops.


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