Top Tips for Night Time Driving

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Driving at night is a very different beast compared to driving in the daytime. Dark roads, poor visibility, and glare caused by artificial lighting can all cause problems, particularly for inexperienced drivers. According to research undertaken by the National Safety Council, the risk of having an accident is three times greater at night. So, if you're out and about after dark it's worth being aware that your driving skills and responses can be impaired.

We've got some suggestions of how you can take a few precautions you can to help you stay safe on the roads after darkout of daylight hours.

Night-Time Driving Risks

The roads may be quieter at night, but that doesn't mean they're safer. A study by the Department for Transport found that although only 15% of driving miles are clocked between 7pm and 7am, that time accounts for almost a third of traffic accidents.

There's also the added problem of reduced lighting; 85% of councils now turn off or dim their streetlights between the hours of midnight and 6am, though some are dimmed as early as 8pm. This adds up to over 2 million street-lights! Great for light pollution but hard on night drivers with vision being easily affected amongst other things.

Driving at Night Safety Tips

Have you had your eyes tested recently?

Before you even get in the car, are you confident that your vision can handle night-time driving? Driving after dusk is extremely demanding on your eyes so if they are already struggling then it's maybe not other car headlights that are the problem. Get your eyesight checked out by an optician who will be able to advise whether you need glasses for driving and how you should approach driving at night.

Coping with headlight glare

Even if your vision is in good shape, the glare from other cars' headlights can be at best distracting and at worst, quite alarming. Ever been driving at night and felt completely blinded by the oncoming traffic? The best way to deal with is not to look directly into the oncoming traffic. Keep your focus on the left-hand side of the road, using the nearside kerb as your guide. Avoid speeding up and slowing down every time you approach oncoming traffic. This can be dangerous for traffic following you so choose a slower speed and maintain it.

Clean your windscreen

Make sure you've given your screens a good clean before you set off at night. You might not notice during the day but any grease build-up will increase light glare and distort your vision after dark. Clean them inside and out.

Make sure you're not sleepy

The danger of falling asleep at the wheel is very high at night, and accounts for 20% of serious accidents on motorways and monotonous roads in the UK. Before you get in the car make sure you're well rested and take regular breaks - and remember that caffeine is no substitute for a proper break!

Take your time

If you don't particularly enjoy driving at night, you might be in a rush to reach your destination. However, putting your foot down is not a good idea, particularly given the statistics we shared earlier of the increased chance of having an accident after dark. Maintain a good constant speed so you can anticipate oncoming traffic and headlights well in advance and be prepared. You have s responsibility to yourself but also to others on the road. Be safe.

Look out for pedestrians, cyclists and animals

It's easy to miss people stepping out in the road during the twilight hours so keep this in mind when you're driving in residential areas. Equally, if you're driving on a country road, you can come upon pedestrians walking home from a night out very quickly. A good cyclist will be wearing reflective clothing and have good bike lights but this isn't always the case. What about pets and other animals who often come out for a wander as the light is fading? Taking your speed down a little and being mindful of the possibility of unexpected appearances on the road, will help you manoeuvre safely around them.

Check all your bulbs

It's illegal to drive with a bulb out - and that goes for any bulb, not just headlights. Make sure you check your bulbs regularly and consider keeping a spare bulb kit in the car in case a bulb fails when you're out and about.

Invest in brighter bulbs

Your depth perception, ability to distinguish colour, and peripheral vision are all worse in low-light conditions. Investing in high performance headlights can help put up to 150% more light on the road, exactly where you need it. This will increase your viewing distance and make street signs and road markings clearer, helping you to spot hazards sooner.

Replace bulbs in pairs

It's always a good idea to replace bulbs in pairs - that way, the light output will always be even from both headlights. This is especially important for night-time driving because it'll give you the best chance of seeing hazards early and won't compromise depth perception.

Check your beam alignment

If you've ever been dazzled by other road drivers and blamed high-performance beams, chances are that the headlights weren't properly aligned. Headlights slip out of position over time, which means that the light's not focused correctly on the road. Make sure to get them realigned every so often to get the maximum amount of light pointed at the right point on the road.

Consider taking Pass Plus

Less experienced drivers may find driving at night more difficult, which can lead to lowered confidence when it gets dark. To help, you can take an extra driving course called Pass Plus which builds up the skills you didn't necessarily learn in order to pass your test. Pass Plus includes modules on driving at night, in towns, on country lanes, in different weather conditions, and on dual carriageways and motorways.

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