It’s normal for motorists to feel less confident driving at night even if you don’t have any vision or awareness issues and is even more common in newer drivers. However, driving at night still brings the obvious benefit that the roads will often be quieter which will make the overall commute time lower.
Because of the lower visibility there are still a significant proportion of total collisions that occur at night, which is even more alarming when you consider that there are less vehicles on the road during this time.
There are several steps you can take to make driving at night more safe which we have detailed within this guide.
Familiarise Yourself With The Route
Familiarize yourself with your planned route before you begin your journey even if you’re planning to use a sat nav. Because of the darkness this will be it more difficult to see the road signs, which will distract you which could lead to you causing a road collision. The more you can stay focussed on the road ahead the smoother your journey will be.
Using a sat nav will reduce the need for you to take notice of road signs.
Clean Your Windscreen
Although you should be doing this regularly anyway, if you are planning on taking a night journey than make sure your windscreen is clean. You can do this by filling your reservoir with screen wash so you can quickly wash off any bugs or residue that stick to the screen.
It’s common to also get bugs on the inside of the windscreen, and when this combines with other types of debris it can impair your view making it harder to see out of your vehicle. If you wear glasses you should also clean these as your view can be obscured by dirt and grime. You often don’t realise how dirty your glasses are until you clean them as your eyes begin to get used to it.
Naturally humans are used to sleeping at night, not operating vehicles which is why we must use lights to see because our eyes don’t work as efficiently in low lighting environments. This means that if you’re driving at night then your body may begin to feel like it wants to sleep leading to drowsiness which then results in reaction time decreasing in a similar way to how alcohol affects us.
If you start to feel like this then you need to take action, as falling asleep at the wheel can have fatal results. Of course, stopping at a hotel and getting some proper sleep would be ideal but there are other steps you can take to revitalize yourself.
If you have another qualified driver in the car, then you can swap whilst you have a sleep and when you wake up you’ll be feeling more alert. Stopping at a garage so you can buy energy drinks or caffeine will give you an additional boost if you only have a small amount of your journey left.
If you don’t have a qualified driver in the car with you then you could also pull over at the nearest garage and have a sleep. Even a small sleep of just 15 minutes can stave off the feeling of drowsiness removing the threat of falling asleep at the wheel.
Before you set off on your journey, you could also have a sleep to recharge your batteries so you have enough energy to make it through the whole journey.
Monitor Your Speed Closely
Because visibility is deceased at night you need to allow yourself more time to react to hazards, which means that you’ll need to slow down so you don’t need to make sudden braking actions which could endanger yourself.
You just need to be a little more cautious especially when it comes to the distance of the vehicle in front which should be three to four seconds so you’ve got enough time to stop if they suddenly brake.
Use Your Headlights
You should already have your lights on before it even gets dark as the sun begins to set not only so you can see but so other road users can see you. If the weather is particularly bad such as a thunder storm then you’ll need to turn them on earlier than usual.
If you’re unsure when you should turn them on, then the earlier the better because it won’t do any harm. You should refrain from using your full beams as this can make other vehicles struggle to see anything on the road.
You should also regularly check that your headlights are in good working order, because it’ll always be the time that you need them that you realise that they don’t work properly which makes it more difficult to navigate the roads.
It’s easy to get distracted when you’re driving, whether this is changing the radio station or adjusting your seat, as soon as you take your eyes off the road this becomes a safety hazard.
It’s not just the risk of a hefty fine coming your way, but also by taking your attention off the road this decreases your overall reaction times meaning that this can lead to an accident.
Be Aware of Pedestrians
Joggers, walkers and cyclists don’t always were safety high visibility gear which can make them hard to see at night. So, you should always take extra time and be aware of their presence, especially in poorly lit areas and roads. Even taking extra care such as looking both ways at intersections can make you notice them at the very last minute and potentially prevent an accident.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Alcohol related accidents are significantly more common at night than in the day time. You should avoid putting other road users at risk by consuming alcohol as this reduces your reaction time and makes you more of an erratic driver.
In you’re under the influence then there are other ways of you getting home including getting a cab or public transport and then collecting your vehicle the following morning.