As the nights draw in at this time of year, you may find yourself driving in the dark more often. This should not get in the way of your daily commute or your magical weekend adventures, but being extra careful on the roads when in low light is definitely worthwhile. According to the Department for Transport’s statistics on road casualties, 40% of collisions occur between 7pm and 6am. So, as part of our Be Smart, Be Bright campaign, we’ve put together this handy guide to help you drive safely at night. Whether it’s dark on your daily commute, you’ve got a long night-time drive somewhere or you just fancy picking up a late night takeaway (we’ve all been there!) then these tips should help you drive safe on dark roads.
Light it up!
You may well be doing your daily commute in the dark during autumn and winter, so you’ll definitely be getting more use out of your headlights! Be smart, be bright and be sure to regularly check that all the exterior lights on your car are working, both for your own safety and to avoid getting pulled over by the police. Switch your headlights on before sunset if you’re driving in the evening and turn them off after sunrise if you’re an early morning driver. Be careful not to dazzle other drivers as well, by making sure you’ve adjusted your headlights to the right level and remember to turn your main beam off when cars are coming the other way. When you are driving down dimly lit roads and no one else is ahead of you, then definitely have your full beams on. Also, try not to stare at other cars’ bright lights to avoid being dazzled yourself.
Fend off fatigue
It’s always important to make sure you’re not feeling tired before getting behind the wheel of your car. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency says that up to 20% of accidents on motorways, and other roads where driving can become monotonous, happen because of drivers falling asleep. Driving tired isn’t just dangerous when you nod off however, feeling sleepy can also compromise your concentration levels and cause you to make mistakes. Try not to plan journeys for when you should be sleeping and, no matter what time of day you set off, make sure you’re well rested beforehand. If you get tired when on the road though, such as when you’re on a long journey, then take regular coffee breaks, share the driving if you can and, if all else fails, get to a services and get some shut eye before continuing on.
When it’s dark, your visibility is reduced and it gets a bit harder to spot other road users such as motorcyclists, pedestrians and cyclists – not to mention any animals that could jump out. It’s also a little harder to judge speeds and distances, so things might come up on you a bit faster than you were expecting. To give yourself some extra time to spot any potential hazards, slow down a little bit. Other drivers could be more erratic in the dark too, so going slower can give you some more space from them and slightly more time to react to their actions. Try not to be one of those drivers that speeds up and slows down constantly though – this can be confusing for anyone driving behind you. It’s best to find a consistent speed that you feel safe driving at. Also, just take a few more seconds to look around when you get to a junction so that you don’t end up pulling out in front of another car.
Get a clear view
Take some time to regularly clean your car windows inside and out to ensure the best vision possible when driving at night. When there are smears on your windscreen, it can increase the glare caused by lights from other vehicles. What’s more, dirty windows tend to be more prone to steaming up, which can make visibility even worse. Streaks and smears may not always be visible during the daytime but can show up more clearly in low light. When your windows steam up, it’s often tempting to clean the condensation from your windows with your hands but the oil from your skin can leave smears behind. Keep a demister pad or a cloth in your door pocket to clean up any condensation or marks.
A bit of extra planning before you set off can go a long way. Starting your journey early can keep you from feeling under pressure to get to your destination on time, so you can avoid any temptation to drive faster. Also, make sure you’ve got a good grasp of what your route is going to be. If you’re driving somewhere new, then turnings and road signs may not be as easy to see until the last minute – that’s even if you’re following your sat nav’s directions. Plus, if you’ve got a long night drive, it’s well worth planning in some rest stops so that you can have a cup of coffee, get some fresh air and recharge at regular intervals.
Dark nights do not have to put a stop to your driving adventures but a lack of driving insurance can; you must be covered to drive on UK roads. Driving safely at night is one of the things we are raising awareness of as part of our Be Smart, Be Bright campaign. At The Insurance Emporium, we offer Third party, Third party Fire & Theft and Comprehensive motor insurance policies* so that you can select a level of cover that suits. Plus, we offer up to 70% no claims discount. If it’ll soon be time to renew your car insurance, contact The Insurance Emporium today!
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