Safety Tips for Driving at Night
Driving at night time can be that little bit more difficult than driving during the day, so it is essential to take more care and be more cautious. Given the roads can be a lot quieter, a big proportion of all accidents still occur during the hours of darkness. By learning how to drive properly and especially at night time, we are reducing our chances of being involved in a car accident. The fear of driving at night seems to be a lot more prevalent among new inexperienced drivers. Driving generally comes with many types of treacherous weather conditions such as rain, fog, and storms. Here are some helpful safety tips for driving at night.
Use your Headlights Correctly
To improve your visibility while driving at night, your headlights should be switched on. The full beams should be on full if there are no other motorists coming your way. Your full beams should only be used when appropriate so if there is an oncoming driver, dip your lights to avoid dazzling them. In addition, slow down to make the roads safer for you and others around you.
General Car Maintenance is a must
Especially in the wintertime and night-time driving, regular maintenance of your vehicle is essential. Prepare your car for night-time driving with the following checks:
- Clean your headlights, your wing mirrors and your rear-view mirrors
- Your headlights should be set correctly and both should be fully functional
- Fog lights should be in full working order
- Wiper blades should have no wear or tear and should be working perfectly
- For safer driving, the tyres on your vehicle should have little to no wear
- Check the air pressure of your tyres on a monthly basis
- Clean your windscreen both inside and outside. Dirty windows can impair your vision, increase the glare from other vehicles, and also can be prone to steaming up which will affect your driving.
Having too much light inside the car should be avoided
Too much light inside a car can impair your vision while driving so dim the dashboard lights so they are not too bright and distracting. Dimming the interior lights can remove reflections on the windscreen and allow your eyes to better adjust to the darkness ahead, improving night-time visibility.
Avoid looking directly into other vehicle headlights
Never look directly at on coming lights, your vision will be impaired, potentially causing an accident for you and another driver. There are some drivers who may not dip their headlights so always look to the left of you if this occurs. Drive at a safe speed at all times, especially at night time. Courtesy while driving on the roads is vital so always dip your lights for on coming traffic.
Stay focused and alert
Night time driving requires maximum focus and concentration. Avoid any activity that will reduce your levels of concentration such as drinking and eating, engaging in conversations, and talking and texting on the phone. Your main role is to drive your vehicle, everything else can be done afterwards. Never drink and drive! It is very easy to lose concentration and become tired while driving at night. Here are some basics for staying alert while driving:
- Watch out for lights as well any movement
- Always check your rear and wing mirrors
- Be alert for any cyclists, pedestrians, other traffic, and even wildlife animals
- Your mirrors should always be clean as stated above
Keep a good distance from the cars in front of you
Many of us are guilty of driving too close to another car, let alone in the dark. Tailgating is a big issue on our roads, many drivers can be far too aggressive and are always in a rush. They may forget to keep a safe distance from the car in front. Keeping a safe distance from car to car is a must, especially while driving at night. By Keeping a distance will allow us to have more time to react quickly in the event of a possible collision. By doing this, you are not pressuring the driver in front of you and it will also improve your visibility.
Check Your Speed
Our visibility is greatly reduced at night so it is essential to lower your speed. It can be tempting to drive that bit faster on a quieter road however, we still should all drive that bit slower than we usually do. Never drive too close to the person in front of you. If a problem occurs in front of you and by reducing your speed, this will allow you to react quicker and reduce any possibility of an accident occurring.
Take breaks regularly
If you are driving long distances and even more so while driving at night, it is important to take breaks regularly. Driving at night can be draining so you will need to refresh and regain your energy. It is advised by the RSA to stop at least every 2 hours and drink some strong coffee to stay alert. If you feel you are completely worn out, stop driving and sleep, you could even book yourself into a hotel for the night. It is better to be safe than sorry!
Never drive tired or fatigued
Night time driving can immediately make us feel tired and fatigued which can make it that more dangerous while driving. Falling asleep while driving can potentially cause an accident to yourself and others around you. Driver fatigue is a huge factor in 1 in 5 driver's deaths in Ireland every year. The RSA advises "stop sip sleep". If you feel sleepy, stop the car in a safe place, sip some strong coffee, and sleep for at least 15 minutes before you continue on your journey again. Sleep is the best cure for fatigue so always take some time to have a short power nap along the way.
Also see winter road safety tips!