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Driving safely at night - some tips to reduce road risk after nightfall

Driving Tips

The Facts

  • Despite far lower traffic volumes, 42% of UK road deaths occur at night-time [1]
  • Fatigue is a factor in 20% of collisions that result in fatalities or serious injury [2]
  • There are 36% more casualties resulting from night-time road collisions than daylight ones [1]
  • Deer colliding with vehicles results in 450 casualties every year; 90% of the incidents are at night on rural roads [3]
  • Having inaccurately adjusted headlights is the number one cause of MOT failure [4]
  • In a survey of AA members, 15% admitted to being fearful of night driving and would appreciate a refresher course on the topic [5] 

The Advice

  1. If you have to drive at night, ensure that you’re well rested and plan the journey in detail before you set out
  2. Dazzle from oncoming vehicles is the number one problem at night. To avoid dazzle, focus your vision on the nearside verge and, using your peripheral vision, only look up again when the oncoming vehicle has passed
  3. Don’t be tempted to wear sunglasses to reduce glare. So-called ‘night vision’ glasses are also not recommended by the road safety community as a whole
  4. However, DO wear prescribed normal eyewear. It could make the difference between seeing, or not seeing, a hazard
  5. Check weekly that your headlights are working and adjusted correctly
  6. Ensure that your speed is appropriate for the distance you can see ahead. An average set of headlights will give approximately 30 metres of visibility on dipped beam [the stopping distance for a car at 40mph is 36 metres].
  7. Beware of the ‘one-eyed cyclops’. Never assume that a single headlight coming towards you belongs to a motor cycle; allow road space for a car or van with only one headlight
  8. Keep your eyes peeled for nocturnal animals. Look for the reflections of eyes in roadside undergrowth. If one jumps out into the road, expect more to follow
  9. In urban areas, expect to see more and more ‘blackout zones’, where local authorities are switching off street lights between midnight and 06.00. Keep a particular look out for pedestrians, who may be wearing dark clothes and be unaware of vehicles near them
  10. Beware of the effects of fatigue. You might think that you’ve had a good night’s sleep but if you’re prone to nodding off while driving – so called ‘micro sleeps’ – you may have Sleep Apnoea, which requires medical intervention
  11. Never turn on the vehicle’s interior lights while you’re driving, as the resulting adjustment that your eyes have to make could mean that you miss something vital
  12. Have a mobile phone and in-vehicle charger with you in case you break down, get lost or are held up for reasons beyond your control. A torch is a useful additional item too

Sources [1] DfT Annual Statistics 2011 [2] Think! website [3] Deer Collisions Project website 2013 [4] VOSA FCIA response 2010  [5] AA Populus poll 2014

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