At some point we all have to drive in the dark, whether it’s commuting to work during the darker winter mornings, leaving early on a road trip, or driving home at night from a social engagement. For some people, driving at night makes them feel less confident. Driving at night is more dangerous than driving in the day. Depth perception, the ability to distinguish colour, and peripheral vision, are worse in low-light conditions, and, if combined with poor weather or fatigue, can increase the risks significantly.
It’s impossible to avoid driving at night altogether, so here are some tips to stay safe while commuting in darkness:
1. Keep it clean
Make sure your car windows – especially the front and rear windscreens - are clean. Dirty windows will increase glare from the lights of other vehicles and are more prone to steaming up. Even windshields which appear clean during the day may reveal streaks that can cause glare at night, so be sure to polish the glass to remove residue. Similarly, dirty mirrors reflect the lights from cars behind you and can produce glare in your eyes.
2. Look after your eyes
It's vital to have your eyes checked regularly as this will show up any underlying problems with your night vision. Never wear dark or tinted lenses for night driving, and keep your eyes moving to reduce the effects of eye fatigue while driving at night.
3. Be visible
Be a courteous road user and make it easier for others to see you on the road. Best practice is to turn your headlights on before sunset and keep them on for an hour after sunrise. This makes it easier for you to see the road when the sun sets or rises, but also makes you more visible to other drivers.
4. Don’t dazzle
Always dip your lights for an oncoming car to avoid dazzling them with your high beams. And, if you're not given the same courtesy by an oncoming vehicle, avoid looking at the headlights. Additionally, cars come with dashboard dimmer switches for a reason. If you're driving around with the dash lights on maximum brightness, you could be compromising your forward vision.
5. Keep a safe following distance
Do not follow the vehicle in front of you too closely, especially when driving at night. The closer your headlights are, the brighter they can seem and more distracting they can be, which could make the other driver nervous and limit his or her visibility. Your visibility will be reduced too. In the day, you can see further ahead, but at night, your visibility ahead of the car in front of you is lessened. With limited sight distance, you're increasing the risk of a crash.
For peace of mind driving at night, join the AA today. Should you experience a roadside emergency, we are there for you 24/7.