Hate driving at night? You’re not alone. Here are our top tips on staying safe when driving at night.

  1. Get your Pass Plus certificate

    The Pass Plus course covers difficult areas of driving - one of them is night-time driving.

    Take your Pass Plus course and you’ll have a trained instructor with you the first time you drive at night. They will be able to explain hazards and dangers as you encounter them. It’ll be good preparation for when you do it alone.

  2. Don’t do it when tired

    The monotony of driving sends you sleep. You can see how this is a problem at night, a time when you’re naturally tired anyway.

    Avoid eating heavy and carbohydrate rich food before you drive at night, as it can make you drowsy– opt for protein rich food instead.

    Research has shown that having 1 – 2 cups of coffee can ward off sleep attacks, too.

    Don’t take over-the-counter medication before departing; a common side effect of medication is feeling drowsy.

    If you feel tired:

    • Pull over and take a break
    • Have a cup of coffee
    • Have a nap of 15 minutes
  3. Take a friend or family member with you

    If you start to get drowsy, having somebody with you can be a big help. They’ll keep you awake by chatting with you. Make sure they’re sober and not a distraction, though.

  4. Take breaks

    This one goes without saying. It’ll keep you refreshed and awake, and will help stop your attention from lapsing.

  5. Don’t drink and drive

    You know it, we know it – we had to give it a mention though.

  6. Keep your windscreen and mirrors clean

    Marks that are insignificant in the day time can be a real irritation at night. Smudged or grubby mirrors can create a glare at night. Use a microfibre cloth to wipe your windscreen and mirrors with before driving at night.

  7. Check your lights

    Remember your ‘Show me, Tell me’ questions?

    You’ll need to make sure your headlights and brake lights are working.

    Lights can be replaced for a low cost. If you replace them, do it in pairs, otherwise you’ll end up with one dim light and one bright one, which can be disorientating.

    Here’s how you check each sets of lights are working:

    • Headlights

      Put your headlights on and see if they have lit up.

    • Brake lights

      Start up the car and press your brake pedal. Get a family member or friend to see that your brake lights are lit. If nobody is about to help, check reflections on cars, windows or garage doors.

    • Hazard lights and direction indicators

      Switch your hazard lights on and walk around your vehicle to check all direction indicators have been activated.

    Don’t forget to wipe your lights down regularly; any build ups of dust and dirt could obscure the beam of light.

  8. Don’t forget to use your lights

    Don’t forget to switch your headlights on when it grows dark. When you travel through areas where there are no street lights, switch to full beam, so you can see clearly.

    Don’t forget to turn them off though as soon as you see a car approaching in the opposite direction, or you come behind a car ahead of you. Fail to do this and you can dazzle other drivers.

    Don’t switch your fog lights on unless it is actually foggy, or again, you risk dazzling other drivers.

    If you’re in a new car, familiarise yourself with the car’s controls before beginning your journey so that you won’t struggle when driving.

  9. Avoid being dazzled

    To avoid this, don’t look directly at the lights on other cars. Instead, focus on road markings. If somebody driving behind you has their lights on too brightly, change the angle of your interior mirror so that you can still see the road, but the glare from the offending headlights is less.

  10. Know your road markings

    You’ll have already covered this in your theory test, but here’s a quick reminder:

    • Green motorway studs mark entry slip and exit roads
    • Amber studs marks the central reservation
    • Red studs mark the hard shoulder
  11. Know your route

    Roads at night look quite different. To help you stay on track, plan your route in advance. If it helps, use a satnav – you can even change your satnav’s display settings to show night-time roads.

  12. Be ready for an emergency

    Just in case, it’s a good idea to be equipped with:

    • A charged mobile
    • A torch and batteries
    • A hi-viz jacket
    • A hazard warning triangle
    • A bottle of water
    • A reflective triangle
  13. Don’t smoke and drive

    Smoke’s nicotine and carbon monoxide can hamper night vision.

  14. Drive slower

    In the dark hazards aren’t as noticeable. Drive more slowly and you could be gaining the second or two you need to react in time.

    By this principle, you should also increase your braking and following distances.

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