Top Tips for Night-Time Driving

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Driving at night can be a lot more intimidating than driving in the daytime. Dark roads, poor visibility and glare caused by artificial lighting can all cause problems, particularly for inexperienced drivers. 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 collated some suggestions, tips and advice as to how you can stay safe on the roads after darkness falls.

Get your eyes tested regularly

Driving after dusk is extremely demanding on the eyes, so before you even get in the car, it’s important to ensure that your vision can cope with it. Make sure you get your eyes regularly checked by an optician and they should be able to advise on whether you need glasses for driving.

Avoid looking directly at car headlights

Even if your vision is in good shape, the glare from other cars' headlights can be quite distracting. The best way to deal with this is to avoid looking directly into a passing car’s headlights, but instead keep your focus on the left-hand side of the road, using the nearside kerb as your guide.

Also try to avoid speeding up and slowing down every time you approach oncoming traffic, as this can be dangerous for traffic following you. Instead, 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. To avoid this, make sure you clean all the windows and mirrors inside and out.

Make sure you're not sleepy

The danger of falling asleep at the wheel is very high at night. Make sure you're well rested before you get in the car and take regular driving breaks.

Take your time

If you don't particularly enjoy driving at night, you might be in a rush to reach your destination. However, it’s better to maintain a steady, sensible speed so that you can anticipate oncoming traffic well in advance and be prepared for dazzling headlights or other distractions. You have a responsibility not only to yourself but also to others on the road, so be safe.

Look out for pedestrians, cyclists and animals

It's easy to miss people stepping out into the road at night, 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 unexpectedly. Cyclists should be wearing reflective clothing and have good bike lights, but this isn't always the case. There could also be pets and other animals by the road 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 to manoeuvre around them safely.

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 one 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 onto 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, it’s more likely 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 directed 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 focuses on 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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