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Safety tips for driving in the dark

Driving in the dark might pose extra challenges, so stay safe with these tips.
A car is driven at night

There's no doubt that driving in the dark is more dangerous. 

As reported by RoSPA, 40% of all collisions occur in darkness.

And 20% of serious accidents on motorways and monotonous roads are caused by drivers falling asleep behind the wheel.

But there are some things you can do to reduce the risks associated with driving at night.

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Eight tips for safer night driving

  • Turn your headlights on before sunset and keep them on for an hour after sunrise.
  • Use full beam when you need to – but remember to dip your lights if there's oncoming traffic.
  • Keep your windscreen and windows clean.
  • Take your time.
  • Have your eyes checked regularly.
  • Study the road ahead – watch out for pedestrians and vulnerable road users.
  • If you can, dim your dashboard lights to reduce any reflections.
  • Take regular breaks.

Turn on your headlights

Vision is reduced at night so good headlight etiquette is essential. 

Turn on your headlights before sunset if you're driving in the evening. In the morning, keep them on for an hour after sunrise. This makes it easier for other drivers to see you in dim light.


Check your lights

It is a legal requirement that all your exterior lights work, so make sure you check them regularly – regular headlight maintenance takes only a matter of seconds.

If a bulb has gone, get it changed as soon as possible.

And keep your interior lights turned off while you’re driving.


How to avoid light glare while driving at night

On rural roads, drive with full beam whenever possible. Make sure you dip your lights when faced with another road user so you don't dazzle them.

It’s also important to think about how to avoid light glare when driving at night. If you're dazzled by an oncoming car then avoid looking at the headlights.

Keep your attention on the left-hand kerb (and the white line at the side of the road, if there is one) and stay at a steady speed.

If you have to slow down, don’t slam your brakes on. A sudden stop or change of speed increases the risk of the car behind running into the back of you.


Keep your windscreen clean

Make sure your windscreen and windows are clean, inside and out, as this should help you see better when driving at night.

Dirty windows might increase glare from other vehicles and you're more likely to experience condensation in your car.  


Have regular eyesight checks

It's vital to have your sight checked regularly. This should show up any underlying eye problems that might affect your night vision.

Never wear dark or tinted lenses for night driving.


Study the road ahead

Read the road ahead for signs of oncoming drivers. Glimmers of light at the top of a hill or around bends could be the headlights of other vehicles, giving you prior warning.

And watch out for pedestrians and cyclists. After dark they might be more difficult to spot, especially if they're not wearing reflective clothing.


Take your time

As we've mentioned, driving at night tends to be much riskier than daytime driving.

So it's worth reducing your speed and taking your time.

Take regular breaks, too. This is always important when driving long distances, but it's even more vital when you're driving overnight.

Stop for a rest at least every two hours.

If you need a pick-me-up, you could drink strong coffee to keep yourself alert. 


Can learner drivers drive at night?

Yes, learner drivers can.

And as long as you are properly accompanied, it could be sensible to have some practice at driving in the dark.

This means you’re not doing it alone for the first time after passing your test.

It’s also good to get into the habit early on of following headlight etiquette and looking out for other road users and animals.


Improve your night-driving skills

If you’re a nervous night-time driver or you’ve recently passed your test, you could book a Pass Plus test with a qualified driving instructor.

This includes a section on driving at night.

Pass Plus tests are usually taken by new motorists, but anyone with a full driving licence can do them.


Does it cost more to drive in the dark?

If you have telematics-based car insurance – the so-called ‘black box’ that monitors when and how you drive – then your policy could cost a little more if you drive at night.

This is because telematics policies calculate the cost of your insurance based on the risks you face.

Because driving in the dark is statistically riskier than driving during daylight hours, your insurer might charge you more accordingly.