As the days get shorter and the nights start to draw in, it is likely that even the most timid drivers will need to drive in the dark from time to time. Driving in the dark can be a little bit disorientating, especially if you are not used to it, but as with any practical activity, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Here are some tips to help you to drive in the dark, safely.
It may seem obvious, but your first step to safe evening driving is to make sure that your car is equipped. Make sure that all your lights work properly and replace any bulbs as required. If you are unsure of how to do this, or if the same bulb seems to go repeatedly, it might be worth consulting a local mechanic in case there is a fault somewhere. If you are a new driver, you are driving a new car, or you are not used to driving in the dark, it is also a good idea to check that you know where your lights, full beam and fog lights and side lights are before you set off.
Driving at night can be a little more dangerous for a range of reasons. Aside from the reduced visibility, at night-time people tend to be more impatient to get home, more tired and – especially during the festive season – may have had something to drink. Be ultra vigilant, keep an eye out for weaving headlights or taillights in the distance, and keep your distance just in case there is an incident ahead that you can’t see.
Driving at night tends to come at the end - or start - of a very long day. While it can be tempting to just push on through your tiredness, it is important that you take rest breaks when you need to. Turning on the radio, opening your window, or calling a friend or family member to chat to while you drive can all help you to stay awake and alert.
Watch your speed
Regardless of what the speed limit is, you should drive at a speed that will allow you to stop if you need to. So, if you can only see 50 metres ahead, you need to ensure that you are driving slowly enough to stop in case there is an obstruction inside the area of reduced visibility. The stopping distance if you are going 50mph in dry conditions is 53metres; this can double in wet conditions. Make sure you are aware of the road conditions and visibility, and adjust your speed accordingly.
Practice, practice, practice
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect and the more you drive in the dark, the more confident you will become. For less confident drivers it can help to get a couple of lessons from a driving instructor who will advise you on how and when to use your lights and other modifications to driving technique that help to keep you safe when driving at night.