Darker Evenings: How to be prepared for night driving

Blog post posted on 26/10/22 |

On Sunday 30th October the clocks are going back - good news for those of us who will enjoy an extra hour in bed! However, it also means we’re going to be travelling to and from work in the dark a lot more.

This year, the clock change coincides with the end of the majority of school’s half term. Children are our most vulnerable road users and the darker evenings do not help. The trip to and from school after a break can be an exciting time to catch up with friends, however, road safety is not always given a high priority in their minds. The darker evenings and autumn/winter weather conditions means motorists need to keep vigilant and consider that children may be out and about, possibly in school uniform which is not known for bright colours.

Use your lights appropriately:

Never worry about being the first person to put your lights on! Being visible and being able to see is key. Checking your lights are in full working order should become part of your routine vehicle checks. Knowing how to use your lights correctly is important to your safety and the safety others. If visibility is reducing check the light switch, a modern car with illuminated dash and daylight running lights can appear to have the lights on when they are not.

Remember you can dip your interior mirror if the lights from the vehicle behind are too bright for you. You also need to consider how and when you use your main beam. If you get blinded by someone coming in the opposite direction, try focusing on the left-hand edge and pull over and stop, if necessary, until your eyes recover.

Keep windows and mirrors clean:

Ensure the vehicle’s windscreen, windows and mirrors are clean and clear inside and out. Whilst a dirty windscreen may not be noticeable during the day, at night this can impair visibility and increase the glare from oncoming vehicles. It can be surprising just how dirty they have become over the summer months, especially on the inside.

Check your tyres:

At least 153 people are killed or seriously injured every year because of defective tyres. As we approach the winter months, road conditions are inherently worse, tread depth is very important in being able to push the surface water away and help stop the car from aquaplaning. Before travelling, check that your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure, with no obvious damage and have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm.  Read more tyre safe tips in our Tyre Safety Month blog

Take regular breaks:

We know from research that that 37% of respondents have continued to drive whilst over-tired. We all know the tell-tale signs and how important it is we take notice of these and stop and take a break from driving every 100 miles or every 2 hours, whichever is sooner. Driving when tired slows your reaction time and puts you, your passengers and other road users in danger. Don’t set out on a journey if you are tired and where possible avoid driving when you are normally asleep.

Learn more about the risks of driving fatigue here.

Increase the distance between cars:

Keeping a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front is important at any time of day. Remember in wet weather the Highway Code suggests we double the two second rule to allow at least four seconds in bad weather, up to 10 seconds in snow and icy conditions. Night-time driving has many different hazards due to lack of clear vision – always drive at a speed that allows you to stop in the distance you see to be clear.

Rebecca Ashton, Head of Policy and Research had this to say:

“Driving in the dark shouldn’t be something to be nervous about but can take a little adjusting to if it’s something you have not done for a while. Making sure your seat position is set up correctly can sometimes help; adjusting your seat can reduce the glare from other road users.

Remember to take your time and make sure you anticipate other road users; it can take practice but learning to link observations and anticipate what could happen on the road is an important skill to have. If you have concerns and find it difficult to see at night then consider an appointment with your optician, it could be some corrective vision is required.”

Remember to stay safe, pay attention and check your vehicle.

Need help to enhance your driving skills? Want to think more like an Advanced Motorist? Why not explore our Advanced Driver and Rider courses, whatever area of driving you’re looking to improve, our course brings your skills up to an Advanced level and boost your confidence.

Find out more on our Courses page here.