4 min read
Whether you’re a seasoned driver or have just passed your test, driving in the dark can throw up some specific challenges that we should all be prepared for. A 2017 survey from The Royal Society for The Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) revealed that 40% of all road accidents happen in the hours of darkness. In addition, 20% of serious accidents on motorways and monotonous roads in the UK are caused by the driver falling asleep at the wheel. These are significant statistics and underline why taking a moment to prepare yourself for night driving is well worth the effort.
Have your eyes tested
Having a regular eye test is to be advised at any time of the year, but making sure you have the correct prescription for your eyes in winter is essential. Ensure that you’re wearing the right glasses when driving in the dark and in times of bad visibility. Avoid any tinted lenses or anything non-prescription and if you forget your driving glasses, avoid driving if at all possible. When you do drive, try not to look directly at oncoming lights to prevent momentary blindness and distraction.
Be aware of your own fatigue levels
Don’t drive when you’re exhausted and if during a journey you find yourself becoming tired, stop and take a break. If you’re planning a long journey, schedule rest stops in advance so you know exactly when and where you’ll be stopping.
Let someone know your plans
Tell a friend or member of your family when you’re travelling and what route you plan to take. That way they’ll have an idea of when you’re expected to arrive and can keep an eye on your progress.
Allow more time
Roads can often be quieter in darkness and there is often a temptation to speed up on deserted roads. Don’t. Be very aware of your speed, allow extra time for your journey to take into account any adverse weather conditions and be very aware of pedestrians in dark clothing and ensure you give cyclists a wide enough berth as you travel through built up areas – one swerve around a puddle or pothole can put them directly in your path.
It’s advisable to travel with an emergency kit in your car throughout the winter season and you’ll be doubly grateful for it if you break down in the dark. Take a look at our ‘Winter Driving Advice’ blog where we’ve listed the absolute essentials.
Preparing your car
Clean and check your headlights are not damaged in any way, replace any broken bulbs (front and rear) and be sure to set the headlights at the correct height to avoid blinding an oncoming driver. If you don’t know how to change your bulbs, your local garage or auto supplies shop (e.g. Halfords) will do the replacement for a small charge. When driving at night, remember to dip your headlights as you drive towards oncoming traffic.
Clean your windscreen inside and out to avoid glare and condensation. A little bit of patience is worth it here: use your de-mister and avoid wiping inside windows with your hands: cleaning with newspaper is a little trick to ensure it is properly smear-free. In frosty conditions, hand-hot tap water (never boiling!) on a windscreen is a safe way to clear frost before you set off.
Be sure to give extra space to other drivers on the road. Drivers often find it more challenging to accurately estimate speed and distance when driving in the dark so allowing more space between you and the car in-front is to be advised.
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