How To Stay Safe When Driving at Night

Posted on Nov 4, 2015

Driving at night presents a greater number of risks than driving during daylight hours. However, as we move closer to the shortest day of the year, many of us will be driving in darkness to get to and from work, let alone heading out for events and activities in the evening. We might not have a choice about whether we drive at night, but we can put measures in place to ensure that we increase the chance of arriving home safely.

Why is Night Driving More Dangerous?

Humans use sight as a primary sense and when we are driving we rely heavily on our ability to see our surroundings: the road, other vehicles and potential hazards. As the natural daylight fades, our field of vision is greatly reduced. In the dark we also lose both colour and contrast, which can make it more difficult to identify what we are seeing, estimate distances and notice detail.

In addition to the reduced visibility, our vision is also impaired by changes in light volume, which can be caused by entering or leaving an area with street lights and most noticeably the glare from the headlights of other vehicles.

Another point to add is that at night time, we are more likely to be tired, as are the other drivers on the road. This can affect our judgements, our focus and our reaction times. If you feel tired after a long day in the office, a late party or a delayed journey home, it is best to take a break, get a drink and snack and rest for a while before getting behind the wheel.

Car Maintenance

To minimise the risks through the darker months of the year, it is important to ensure your car is well maintained. You need to make regular checks on your car lights to ensure they are working and clean, so it is easy for other vehicles to see you on the road. You need to make sure that your car windows are clean and windscreen wash is topped up, so you aren’t further reducing your visibility.

Make sure that you also get your car booked in for its annual MOT. You will not receive a notification when the MOT is due, so it is important to write a note in your calendar or find another method of reminding yourself, so the deadline isn’t missed. This certified inspection will provide early identification of any issues that may affect your car. If you live in South Buckinghamshire and are looking for a trusted company to undertake your MOT, Holmer Green Service Centre  provides an efficient and professional service.

MOTs and regular car maintenance will reduce the risk of a breakdown, which could leave you stranded by the side of the road in the dark. For this same reason, you should ensure that you have sufficient fuel in the tank for your journey.

Driving at Night

When you are driving at night, you can change the rear view mirror position so it deflects lights from the vehicles behind. When oncoming vehicles approach, look down to the right of the road, so you see the white lines rather than the headlights. Keep interior lights switched off, so you aren’t seeing their reflection in your windows and mirrors.

As reaction times are slower at night, it is important to reduce your driving speed and increase the distance between your vehicle and the one in front. This is even more important on winter nights, when the roads could be icy, wet or gritted. With these extra precautions, night driving need not be a nightmare.