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05 Mar 2019
Adam Bate

Safety tips for driving in the dark


Driving in the dark can pose extra challenges, so stay safe with these tips.

Busy motorway at night

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

A 2017 survey by ROSPA revealed that 40% of all collisions occur in the hours of darkness. And 20% of serious accidents on motorways and monotonous roads in the UK are caused by falling asleep behind the wheel. 

The main reasons behind this is because of reduced visibility and increased difficulty in judging speed and distance.

This isn't helped by reduced street lighting. Research from reveals that over a third of the UK's street lights are dimmed and 12% are switched off completely, making driving at night even more difficult:

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Top tips for safer night driving:

  • Keep windows clean to avoid increased glare and condensation.

  • Don’t dazzle others - dip your lights when faced with another road user.

  • Help drivers see you in twilight by turning your headlights on before sunset and keeping them on for an hour after sunrise.

  • Have your eyes checked regularly for problems which can affect your night vision.

  • Be aware that other road users may behave erratically, so be prepared to give them more space.

  • Watch out for pedestrians, especially near pubs and clubs around closing time.

  • Allow more time for your own journey, so you're not driving under pressure.

  • If you can, dim your dashboard lights and reduce reflections and avoid reducing your night vision.

Read more: Don't get dazzled by headlight glare

Eye health

It's vital to have your sight checked regularly as this will show up any underlying eye problems such as glaucoma that may affect your night vision.

Never wear dark or tinted lenses for night driving.

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When should I turn on my headlights?

The Institute of Advanced Motorists advises turning your headlights on before sunset and keeping them on for an hour after sunrise so it's easier for other drivers to see you in twilight.

Make sure all your exterior lights are clean and working properly and keep your interior lights turned off.

And although it's always important to make sure you can stop within the distance you can see to be clear, after dark this is especially the case.

Dazzled driver

Coping with headlight glare

On rural roads, drive on full beam whenever possible but dip your lights when faced with another road user to avoid dazzling them.

“And if you're dazzled by an oncoming car then avoid looking at the headlights,' urges driving instructor Colin Baker.

“Keep your attention on the left-hand kerb and try to keep your speed steady.

Avoid driving along at 50mph, dropping to 40mph when there's oncoming traffic and then speeding up again.

It makes it very confusing for drivers travelling behind you.

It's better to aim for a speed you can maintain such as 45mph and sticking to it, even if there are times you could go faster.”

Read more: Driving in snow and ice

Clear your windscreen

Make sure your car windows are clean, inside and out. Dirty windows will increase glare from other vehicles and are more prone to steaming up.

Dirty car window at night

Study the road ahead

Read the road ahead for signs of oncoming drivers – glimmers of light at the top of hills and at bends could be the headlights of other vehicles, giving you prior warning.

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

Take regular breaks

It's always advisable to take regular breaks when driving long distances, but this is even more vital when you're driving overnight.

Stop for a rest at least every two hours and drink strong coffee to keep yourself alert.

First published on the 14th of December 2016


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