Safety when driving in the dark
Night time driving is undoubtedly more dangerous than driving in good light. Safety when driving in the dark is important to reduce your risk of an accident. In this article, we’ll be discovering the top tips for staying safe when driving in the dark and the increased risk factors associated with night driving.
What makes driving in the dark more dangerous?
Statistically, only 15 percent of driven miles are conducted between the hours of 7pm and 7am. That being said, these miles count for almost a third of all road injuries and fatalities. The study was conducted by the Department of Transport and the shocking findings have led us to investigate further. The top reasons driving in the dark is more dangerous are:
Driving in the dark obviously, means that vision can be limited. Street lighting provides changeable light as you pass through the road. The changes in the street lighting and the oncoming lights of other road users can make it hard to judge the speed and distance of potential hazards. As you approach another car ahead of you in the road, your limited vision could mean it looks further away than it is. You need to have your wits about you and be prepared to brake more suddenly if you have misjudged the distance.
That being said, Confused.com conducted some research into street lights and discovered that over 2 million street lights are dimmed at night or even turned off completely. This makes visibility even more of a risk while driving in the dark.
Country Roads which have no street lighting are extra dangerous. They are typically narrower, winding and with the added hazard of wildlife to think about. Drivers must rely on their vehicle’s full beam lights to assist their vision. This is all well and good until you encounter another driver. Unless you’re quick about turning your beams off they will be momentarily blinded. On an unfamiliar Country road, even a second of being unable to see could be fatal if you encounter a bend in the road.
Problems with Vision:
There are certain conditions which can affect your ability to see well at night. These include nearsightedness or Myopia, cataracts, or even a vitamin A deficiency. Keeping up with regular eye tests can identify these problems and you can be prescribed glasses to help your vision at night.
This may seem obvious because as drivers we check for pedestrians when we drive all the time. The significance of checking for pedestrians at night is that they are harder to spot. Someone wearing dark coloured jeans and a black jacket will be near impossible to see in the dark until it’s perhaps too late. Being extra vigilant will help you spot pedestrians sooner.
Be extra cautious around pubs and clubs, especially at closing time. The pedestrians leaving the establishments will often be inebriated and may not be able to control their balance or footwork too well. If this happens they could find themselves stumbling into the road and you could find them swaying into your driving path.
When should I turn my headlights on?
The Institute of Advanced Motorists advises turning your headlights on before sunset and keeping them on for an hour after sunrise so it’s easier for other drivers to see you in twilight. They also advise making sure all your exterior lights are clean and working properly. To reduce distraction for other drivers and to ensure your night vision isn’t compromised your interior car light should always be off when you are driving at night.
How can I improve my safety when driving in the dark?
To reduce your risk of being involved in an accident on the roads at night you should follow these guidelines. By doing so you’ll start to feel more comfortable about driving at night. You may also notice that your vision improves overall by following these guides and not straining your eyes at night.
Ensure you are alert:
Making sure you’re not driving tired is one of the most important things you can do to improve your safety when driving in the dark. Be well rested. Have a coffee and even put the radio on. As humans, we are programmed to sleep at night time so when we break this habit the body will fight to go to sleep. Research suggests that 20% of accidents on major roads are because a driver has fallen asleep at the wheel.
Use Sat Nav on night mode:
If you’re using a Sat Nav on your night time journey ensure it is switched over to night mode. Night mode uses darker colours and doesn’t give off as much light or glare as daytime mode. This reduces distraction for you and other drivers.
Keep it clean:
Ensuring your interior and exterior windows are clean from smudges and smears will dramatically improve your vision while driving in the dark. We’ve all had an annoying smudge that’s distorted the light each time drive past an oncoming vehicle and it is admittedly distracting. So this makes good sense. Not only that, dirty windows are more prone to fogging up which can also reduce visibility.
Watch the road ahead:
I don’t just mean keeping your eyes on the road. That’s a given. I’m talking about looking far ahead on the road. Study road signs for warnings of upcoming hazards that might not be visible in the dark. Watch out for bends and be prepared for an oncoming vehicle to have their high-beams on as they approach. Keep your eyes peeled for glimmers of light in the distance which could indicate an oncoming vehicle or potential hazard in your path.
Take breaks regularly:
It is always advisable on long journeys to take regular breaks so you can re-focus and maintain your concentration. This is even more vital at night time. Driving in the dark takes a lot more concentration and if you start to lose concentration you could end up in a hazardous situation. If you’re driving overnight take a break every 1-2 hours. Drink strong coffee to keep yourself alert and if you find yourself becoming tired always pull over.
Finally, always consider your safety when driving in the dark and the safety of other road users. Being conscious of how dangerous it can be will ensure you take more care over driving in the dark. Following the tips in this article could help to secure your safety when driving in the dark and they’re simple, small changes to your driving habits. We don’t need an excuse to take a break, but improving our safety is a really good one. Wishing you a safe journey.