Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
1:00 AM 28th October 2023

5 Tips For Driving Safely In The Dark

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay
With the days getting shorter and nights becoming longer as winter rolls in, driving in the dark carries a lot more risk than driving during the day.

However, there are simple steps you can take that make driving at night much safer. The team at Select Car Leasing have provided this handy checklist everyone should follow when driving in the dark.

1. Check and use you lights appropriately

When driving at night, it’s essential that you check that both your front and rear lights are in full working order. It’s illegal to drive without fully working lights. If you find that a bulb needs changing, get it done as soon as possible to avoid being stopped by the police.

The way you use your lights is hugely important too. Turn dipped headlights on about an hour before sunset and keep them on an hour after sunrise to ensure you’re always clearly visible to other road users. You should use your full beam on unlit country roads to help you see the road layout more clearly, but if you encounter another vehicle, switch back to dipped beam immediately so that you don’t dazzle them.

2. Don’t stare at oncoming vehicles

To prevent yourself from being dazzled by headlights, never look directly at the lights of other cars. The glare can temporarily impair your vision, making you more likely to panic and lose your bearings.

Look to the left-hand side of the road and follow the line marking the edge if there is one, so you can keep track of your position on the road. If the glare is so bad that you can’t see anything, slow down but avoid stopping abruptly so the car behind you doesn’t run into the back of your car.

3. Watch out for pedestrians, cyclists and animals

Vulnerable road users such as children, the elderly and cyclists are at increased risk at this time of year. Take extra care when driving around schools and in residential areas so you have time to react if someone does happen to step out in front of you. Remember that it’s also Halloween week, so many youngsters will be dressed up in dark costumes and hanging around poorly-lit areas, making them even less visible to motorists.

Cyclists can be difficult to spot after dark too, especially if they’re not wearing reflective clothing. You should also watch out for animals darting out in front of you, particularly on country roads where nocturnal creatures are active. Keep your speed down and always be on your guard for any unexpected movements.

4. Keep windows clean

A build-up of condensation on the inside of your windows and dirt on the outside can impair visibility of the roads, so it’s important to take time to clean them before setting off.

Windscreens are particularly susceptible to steaming up on the inside, especially in cold weather, while car heaters can blow dirty air at the glass, causing a hazy film to build up on the inside. This can increase glare from oncoming headlamps.

5. Don’t drive tired

Seasonal changes can affect your sleep patterns. With an hour less of light in the evenings, your melatonin levels may be higher, leaving you feeling a little more tired than normal. Driving tired makes you a danger to yourself and other road users and can even be as dangerous as drink-driving. If you start to feel drowsy, stop and take a break.

If you’re heading off on a long journey that involves driving through the night, make sure you schedule some rest stops at least every couple of hours and grab a caffeinated drink to keep yourself alert.