Winter Driving Tips: Driving Safely at Night
Driving at night can be difficult for many drivers, especially for those who are not used to driving in the dark. It’s challenging enough to drive on roads that are not well-lit, you also have to deal with the glaring headlights from other vehicles that can make it harder for you to see the road. With many road accidents happening during nighttime, how do you stay safe if you have to drive in the dark? Here are some tips to help you.
How to Use Your Lights Properly
Drivers are not legally allowed to drive at night without all the car lights functioning properly. Make sure that you check all the lights regularly to ensure that they are working well. If there’s a bulb that’s broken, then get it replaced as soon as you can. Don’t drive without changing it because you risk getting stopped and fined by the police.
Apart from ensuring that all the lights are good, it’s also important that you know how to use them correctly. For example, use the dipped headlights before sunset and after sunrise so that your vehicle will be clearly visible to other cars and pedestrians.
When driving on dark country roads, turn on the full beam so you can see the road ahead. However, remember that when you’re about to encounter another vehicle, turn it back to the dipped beam immediately so as not to dazzle other drivers.
Avoid Staring at Oncoming Vehicles
Some drivers forget that they’re on the full beam so prevent yourself from being dazzled by not staring at oncoming vehicles. Don’t look at the headlights directly because the glare can impair your vision temporarily. You might panic and fail to notice the vehicle in front of you and this could cause an accident.
Avoid this problem by looking at the left-hand side of the road. Simply follow the white line that marks the edge so you can still keep track and maintain your position. If the glare was intense, don’t panic. Instead, slow down but don’t stop abruptly to avoid the car behind you from colliding into your vehicle.
Keep Your Windscreen Clean
Condensation build-up and dirt on your windscreen can also impair your vision when driving in the dark. If you need to drive at night, take time to clean your windscreen, windows, and mirrors before hitting the road.
During the colder months, your windscreen is more prone to steaming up and dirt can come from the car heaters. This can cause a build-up of a hazy film on the glass, increasing the glare from the headlights of oncoming vehicles.
Be Aware of Other Road Users
When driving in the dark, be more aware of other road users. This doesn’t just mean other vehicles but also cyclists and pedestrians. You should also watch out for animals on the road. If you’re going to drive around residential areas and schools, drive carefully and be attentive because someone might cross the road. Don't forget the laws and Highway Code changed at the beginning of this year so that cyclists, pedestrians and horses have right of way. And you must now allow at least 1.5 metres when overtaking a cyclist.
During occasions like Halloween, a lot of kids will be in dark costumes and it will be even more difficult to see them. Make sure you drive slowly (most residential areas are now 20mph zones) so you’ll have enough time to react in case a person steps out in front of your vehicle. Cyclists will also be hard to spot at night, especially if they don’t have any reflective clothing on.
It’s also important to watch out for animals whether you’re driving on country roads or in urban areas. A lot of animals are active at night so they might be on the road while you’re driving. Observe your surroundings for unexpected movements and maintain a moderate speed so you can react quickly.
Get an Eye Check-up
Do you experience any difficulty when driving at night? When you’re on the road from day to night, your eyes need to adjust to the decreasing light levels. If you find it hard to see other vehicles, road signs, and you get intense glare from headlights, it might be best for you to get your eyes checked.
There’s no harm in going to a doctor for an eye check-up. In fact, it will make you feel more confident when you have to drive in the dark because you’ll have the right glasses or contact lenses to improve your vision. You can get glasses with anti-reflection coating to help you avoid being dazzled by headlight glare.
Don’t Drive When You’re Tired
Driving when you already feel tired is just as bad as driving under the influence. Don’t risk getting into an accident by pushing yourself to continue driving. Instead, stop by at a cafe, restaurant, or somewhere safe where you can get coffee, tea, or snacks and also stretch your legs afterwards. If your eyes are already tired, park somewhere safe and rest them for a bit before continuing on your journey.
Take a Pass Plus Course
If driving at night makes you anxious, you can also take a Pass Plus course. With this course, you’ll have the chance to practice driving in the dark with a certified instructor. He or she will teach you what to watch out for, how to react, and what to expect when driving at night. It’s a good opportunity for you to build your driving skills and confidence.
If you can travel during the daytime, it’s much better to do so because you’ll be able to see the road more clearly. However, there are times when we have no choice but to drive at night. Whenever you’re on the road during nighttime, remember the tips we’ve shared here. Drive at a moderate speed and be aware of your surroundings so you’ll have time to react accordingly. 👍