Hate driving at night? You’re not alone. Here are our top tips on staying safe when driving at night.
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.
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
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.
This one goes without saying. It’ll keep you refreshed and awake, and will help stop your attention from lapsing.
Don’t drink and drive
You know it, we know it – we had to give it a mention though.
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.
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:
Put your headlights on and see if they have lit up.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Don’t smoke and drive
Smoke’s nicotine and carbon monoxide can hamper night vision.
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.