In the UK, around 40% of road accidents occur during the hours of darkness. This is in spite of there being vastly fewer cars on the road during these hours.
Many factors contribute to this statistic. Drinking and driving is naturally more likely to occur at night, for one thing. During winter, when daylight hours are shorter, the roads tend to be a little more treacherous. Then, of course, there’s the natural reduction in visibility.
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If you’re concerned about road safety for yourself and your family, you should also be concerned about how to drive safely at night. Happily, there are a few simple tips you can follow to get the most out of driving in the dark.
Keep mirrors and windows clean
Your visibility will be poorer when it’s dark. But it’ll be worse if the glass in your windows and mirrors is dirty. Make a point of regularly cleaning both, and replenishing your screenwash. When the weather gets cold, you might increase the proportion of concentrate; this way, you’ll avoid problems with the wipers freezing up.
Keep your eyes on the road
It’s easy for potholes, rogue pedestrians, and other hazards to sneak up on you in the dark. Keep your attention fixed on the road in front of you. Make sure that you’re constantly scanning for hazards, and avoid distracted driving, even if you’re hands-free.
Even audiobooks and talk radio will negatively impact your ability to focus. You can’t process the points being made on your favorite podcast and navigate through a darkened, unfamiliar city center at the same time. Save that for the highway.
Check your lights
If your lights fail, then you’ll not only be on the wrong side of the law – you’ll also put yourself and your fellow road users in danger. You can book your MOT online and get your lights checked as part of the process – but it’s a good idea to periodically check them yourself. Keep a supply of spare bulbs to hand, and know how to change them.
Don’t drive when tired
There’s a compelling body of evidence that suggests that driving tired is bad in much the same way as drink driving is. Some estimates indicate that around a fifth of accidents on British roads are caused in some way by fatigue. Your reactions will be slower, you’ll have difficulty spotting hazards, and you run the risk of slipping into a micro-sleep, which when you’re behind the wheel of a car, can be deadly.
How can I make driving in the dark easier?
You can make driving in the dark easier and safer by following these tips:
- Ensure Proper Lighting: Check that all your vehicle’s lights are working correctly, including headlights, taillights, and brake lights.
- Clean Headlights: Keep your headlights clean and free of dirt and grime to maximize visibility.
- Dim Your Dashboard Lights: Reduce the brightness of your dashboard lights to minimize distractions and maintain night vision.
- Use High Beams Wisely: Use high beams on dark, open roads, but switch to low beams when approaching other vehicles.
- Follow Lane Markings: Stay within your lane by following road markings, and avoid drifting into oncoming traffic.
- Reduce Speed: Slow down to give yourself more reaction time and increase safety in low-visibility conditions.
- Stay Alert: Avoid distractions, and stay focused on the road to react quickly to unexpected situations.
What is the advice for driving in the dark?
When driving in the dark, it’s essential to follow these key pieces of advice:
- Headlight Etiquette: Use your high beams on unlit roads, but dim them when approaching other vehicles.
- Keep a Safe Following Distance: Maintain a greater following distance than during daytime to allow for sudden stops.
- Avoid Glare: Reduce interior lighting and avoid looking directly at oncoming headlights to prevent glare.
- Use Fog Lights Sparingly: Only use fog lights when necessary in dense fog or heavy rain, as they can be blinding to others.
- Regular Maintenance: Ensure your vehicle’s lights, brakes, and tires are in good condition through regular maintenance.
- Stay Awake and Alert: Fatigue impairs your nighttime driving abilities, so stay well-rested and take breaks on long trips.
How do you drive differently in the darkness?
Driving in the darkness requires adjustments to your driving habits, such as:
- Reduced Speed: Drive at a speed that allows you to react to unexpected obstacles or road conditions.
- Increased Following Distance: Maintain a larger following distance to account for decreased visibility and longer stopping distances.
- Dimmed Interior Lights: Dim dashboard and interior lights to avoid distracting glare and maintain night vision.
- Careful Use of High Beams: Use high beams on dark, open roads, but switch to low beams when approaching other vehicles.
- Heightened Awareness: Be more vigilant, scan your surroundings frequently, and anticipate potential hazards.
Why do I struggle driving in the dark?
Struggling with nighttime driving is common and can be due to several factors: