Driving in the dark can be a scary and daunting experience. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone; however, if not done correctly you can cause not only yourself but other roads users harm. Most accidents happen during the darker hours of the night, so you want to minimise the risk of an incident as much as possible. There are a number of precautionary steps you can take to help reduce the risk of any accident, here we discuss all of our main safety tips for driving in the dark.
Why is it hard driving in the dark?
One of the main reasons why many people struggle with driving in the dark is due to reduced visibility. This makes it harder for road users to estimate and judge speed and distance. Sometimes night driving can be made worse by other factors, such as weather conditions or being tired which can significantly increase the risk of an incident.
Feeling tired while driving
When it comes to driving, it can sometimes make you feel a little drowsy especially if you have the car warm. It is not always easy to know when you’re feeling tired, here are a few signs you should be looking out for:
- Finding it difficult to focus, heavy eyelids or frequent blinking
- Daydreaming, or struggling to remember the last few miles of your journey
- Feeling restless
- Drifting from your lane into others or hitting rumble strips
These signs are all things you need to look out for while driving and if you are starting to feel a little sluggish, you may want to consider opening a window to allow to the fresh air to blow through the car which will help to provide you with a wake-up boost. Alternatively, you could simply look at reducing the temperature inside the vehicle, as we mentioned earlier, people tend to become drowsy as their cars are way too warm.
If you are driving for a long journey, you may want to consider having a pit stop halfway through so you can grab something to drink, stretch your legs and if needs be, have a short nap. If you are planning ahead, you could also look at introducing the buddy system to your drive. By having another driver in your car, if you do become tired and are struggling to concentrate, your journey doesn’t have to come to a halt as the other driver can take over.
Keep your vehicle clean
Keeping your vehicle clean when driving in the dark is going to be one of your key priorities, a dirty car can cause poor visibility. When thinking about your headlights, you are going to want to keep them clean, so they light up the road sufficiently. While on the subject of headlights, you should always be on top of maintenance, if one has blown or is significantly dimmer than the other, you need to change it at your earliest convenience. Good headlights will give you great visibility, even more so when you need to turn your full beams on.
Keeping your windscreen clean is also something you need to look out for. It can be easy for dust to collect not only on the outside of your vehicle but also on the inside, which can often stick to your windscreen. Once it gets dark and everyone has their lights on it can often light up your windscreen which causes the dust to become more visible therefore reducing the visibility through your windscreen. We understand that it is not always easy to get your car cleaned or to have the vehicle cleaned on a regular basis, so it is always important to keep a bottle of glass cleaner and microfibre cloth in your car to ensure your windscreen can be clear at all times.
Turn your headlights on
It is important that you get into the habit of turning your headlights on. It is recommended that you turn them on as soon as it’s dusk and when it gets slightly dark at any point in the day, you should turn your headlights on to help other road users see you on the road. If the weather is bad, you will also want to increase your visibility so regardless of the time of day you will want to turn your lights on.
Some vehicles have daytime running lights which can often cause people to forget they have not turned on their full headlights. Make sure you check this before setting off, as you can be stopped by the authorities, due to the fact that it is illegal to drive without your headlights on in the dark.
Have your eyesight checked
It may seem like a straightforward and easy thing to do, but many people’s vision can become worse when it’s dark. People can be unaware of issues such as glaucoma which can drastically affect night vision. You should also never wear tinted or dark glasses when driving in the dark; many people forget to take their sunglasses off when it gets darker in the evening and wonder why their vision is not the best.
When it comes to driving, there is a minimum standard of vision you should have to be able to drive. You must be able to read a car number plate from 20 metres, which is commonly completed during your driving test.
It is also possible to drive with one eye; it is common for drivers to be able to take to the road as long as they have the minimum standard of vision in that eye. You should always ask your optician on their advice, as if you do have impaired vision or no vision at all in one eye you will need to report it to the DVLA.
If you would like more information on why you should have your eyes tested when driving, read Confused.com article.
Give other road users more space
You should always take into consideration how close you are to other road users. There are several reasons to why you should give other vehicles space; you could be making the driver in front of you nervous which can make them more likely to react badly to something in the road, they could possibly be more likely to brake harder if they see something. When you are closer to the car in front of you, your headlights can dramatically affect their vision, which could be rather distracting.
Another thing you need to take into consideration when being to close to the car in front is that your vision is not great, during the day you are more likely to see something, whereas in the dark, you cannot react as well. If you are too close to the car, you might find yourself in a tricky situation if they do brake hard or if you needed to stop for any reason.
You also need to regulate and think about the speed you are travelling. If at all possible you should use your cruise control to help you monitor your speed.
Being hyper-aware of what is around you doesn’t mean braking at every instance, you need to make sure you are aware of other road users and what they might be doing. Keep an eye on your mirrors; it will make you aware of things that are happening on the road.
At night it is harder to see animals, and you may only spot them at the last minute, this is why we recommend driving slower in the dark. Make sure that when driving down country roads, to take bends and hills with caution and be wary of animals potentially jumping out.
Allow more time for journeys
You should always take into consideration how long a journey might take you, if you are a nervous driver when taking a journey in the dark it might be wise to set off slightly earlier than usual to give yourself enough time. You should never rush a journey no matter what time of day it is but if you are in the dark, you could miss something jumping out into the road. You can also become so fixated on getting to your destinations that you become completely unaware of what is around you.
Some people prefer having their dashboard bright because they can see it better, however this can cause reflection on the inside of your windscreen. Cars come with dashboard dimmer switches for a reason, the last thing you want to do is compromise your visibility, so think about reducing the brightness.
Taking these safety tips on board will help and hopefully improve your nighttime driving confidence. One thing we would say is don’t stop driving just because you are nervous, the only thing that will boost your confidence and make you a safer driver is to go out and drive in the dark. If you don’t take into consideration these steps you could be in danger of causing, or being in an incident which may require Car Body Repairs in Milton Keynes.
Making sure your car is clean is vital to ensuring a safe journey, lights and windscreens should be clear of any dirt before you set off giving you maximum visibility. Be aware of your surroundings, make sure you know where other car users are on the road and where they are around you.
Make sure you can see properly if you are noticing lights are becoming blurry in the distance and if signs are much harder to read, you may require glasses. If you are someone that needs glasses to drive it may also be ideal to have a spare pair in your car at all times just in case you forget them.
If you are a little worried about driving in the dark, take someone with you who can take over if needs be. We hope by following a couple of our tips, you feel a tad more confident and find it a little easier to drive on the road.