It’s that time of year again where the days start to get noticeably shorter and we’ll soon be winding the clocks back an hour as we switch back from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time. That means a lot of drivers will be faced with one of the things they hate and fear the most – driving in the dark.
Night driving is for more risky than daytime driving simply because visibility is so drastically reduced. Even with the latest xenon headlights it can be difficult to see ahead, a problem compounded by the dazzling headlights of oncoming cars. Roads that are so familiar during the day can feel completely different at night when you’ve lost sight of the landmarks. Statistics say you’re far more likely to have an accident at night so here are some tips to reduce your risk.
For a start make sure that your car is well maintained, starting with your light bulbs. They’re all important in their own way but at night they’re the only thing that make you visible to other road users, both in front and behind you. Your car will fail its MOT if there are any non-working bulbs but just because it passed its MOT test a month ago doesn’t mean all the bulbs are still working. Check them once a week and replace any that are not working as quickly as you can. Check your car’s handbook if you don’t know how, it will usually offer you instructions on how to swap a bulb. Some European countries make it a legal requirement to carry a spare bulb kit in your car and even though it’s not a legal requirement in the UK it’s not such a bad idea.
A quick and easy check before each journey is to make sure your headlights are clean. You can have the best headlights in the world but they’ll be no use to you if they’re covered in a layer of muck. That goes for your tail lights too, they’re the first thing that a car sees when it catches up with you at night and it’s better to be seen easily. Carry a small bottle of water and some tissues in the boot so that if you’re caught out with dirty lights you can give them a quick wipe.
It’s also a good idea to make sure your windscreen washers are topped up and have a good cleaning detergent mixed into the water. By keeping a clean windscreen you ensure that your view ahead is not restricted and it will also help to reduce dazzle from other lights.
One of the most important rules of driving at night on unlit roads is that you should only drive at a speed where you can stop within the distance illuminated by your headlights. If you’re driving quicker than that you’re effectively driving blind and that’s not a clever thing to do. Don’t forget to use your headlights’ full beam whenever you can but make sure you dip them back when other cars are coming towards you or you have a car in front.
Don’t drive tired! It’s all too easy to be overwhelmed by tiredness on a long night-time journey and it only takes a momentary break in concentration for there to be serious consequences. It’s better to stop and have a brief nap than to find yourself needing to call on car accident attorneys because you’ve fallen asleep at the wheel and caused a serious accident.
One last tip is to try taking the long way home. Why would you want to do that? Because you might be better off sticking to the major roads for a few extra miles because they are far more likely to be well lit. That makes them much safer for night driving than that quiet country lane that shaves a few miles off your journey. OK, so it may take longer, but if you’re more likely to arrive home safely is that such a bad thing?
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