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Driving at night: Tips to help you stay safe

Driving in the dark can be a daunting proposition for drivers of all experience levels, so here are some tips to help you.

Whether you've been driving for 30 years or 30 days, driving in different conditions can be difficult and intimidating. There's no denying that there's more chance of you having an accident in situations like this.

At night and very early in winter mornings, vision is reduced and it may be trickier to spot hazards before they occur, especially if you are driving on roads that are less familiar to you.

The chance of falling asleep at the wheel is greatly increased too, and concentration levels can drop quickly, meaning you are less focused on the road ahead, putting yourself and others in danger.

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When driving on country roads at night, you need to be extra vigilant as animals could dart out across the road in front of you which could cause you to either hit them or swerve out of their way, presenting further dangers.

But all of this can be significantly reduced by following the key safety tips we have highlighted below which will help keep you out of harm's way when driving in the dark.

Headlights

Turning on your headlights before it starts to get dark will ensure that you are all ready to go when the sun does set and there's no chance of you forgetting to switch them on.

It not only helps keep you safe and see the road further ahead but also helps other drivers know that you are there and what your intentions are, which keeps everyone on the road safe.

Lights

You should regularly check your lights to make sure the bulbs are working and have not gone out. If this does happen, you should get it fixed as soon as possible as not only is it a safety hazard for you and others but it's also against the law.

This is especially important before a long drive at night as you could be left stranded for a long period of time if your lights die. It only takes a few seconds to check and ensure they are working correctly.

When driving in the dark you should also avoid turning on any interior lights as this could distract you and cause your vision of oncoming traffic to be reduced.

Light glare

If you are driving on a country road at night and there are no other vehicles around you, then it is strongly advised to use your full beams to give you a clearer vision of what's up ahead.

If you do approach oncoming traffic or you come across a car up ahead, dip your headlights so you don't dazzle them.

Unfortunately, other road users are not as attentive and may dazzle you if they are using their full beams and fail to dip their lights as they approach you. If that happens, try to stay focused on the left-hand kerb and avoid looking directly at the lights.

Windscreen

Keeping your windscreen clean is an easy way to ensure that your vision is as good as it possibly can be when driving in the dark.

A dirty windscreen could increase the glare from oncoming traffic as well as the chances of condensation building up. Like your lights, it's really quick and easy to check and fix any issues before going out on the road.

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Annual eye test

It sounds very condescending but having an annual eye test to check your vision is really important, not only for your general health but to keep yourself safe on the roads.

Anticipation

You should always be on the lookout for road signs telling you what to do and anticipate what other drivers are doing. 

If you are approaching a junction or bend, look out for oncoming headlights to tell you that a car is approaching to give yourself extra time to decide what you need to do.

Some pedestrians and cyclists don't wear reflective gear or lights when out at night which is a serious hazard to you. 

Don't rush

Driving at night is not as straightforward as driving during the day, even if there are fewer vehicles on the road.

This could actually be a negative for you as it may lead to you making silly mistakes with others not being around. 

Reduce your speed, take your time and even stop for a nap if you feel like you are struggling. It's recommended to stop for a break every two hours when driving in all conditions, let alone at night, so a snack or coffee stop will help pick you back up again.

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