How to Stay Safe When Night Driving

Written by Omid Karimi

Driving at night can be dangerous, especially when you're driving in a remote area. There are a lot of obstacles drivers may face when driving at night compared to driving during the day.  

Newbie drivers are hesitant to drive at night and that’s only normal. Even experienced drivers are cautious to drive at night. So for those who are still learning, remember to be extra cautious when driving at night. Here are some tips on what you should do to stay safe when driving at night.

1. Reduce speed. 

Night-time driving is a bit different compared to when you're driving during the day. Even though there's not much traffic on the road, you still have to reduce your speed since visibility is low. This will enable you to act when there are sudden changes on the road. For instance, if an animal or pedestrian crosses the road, you’ll have enough time to step on the brake. Thus, avoiding the possibility of road accidents. And although you'll reach your destination a little longer, you'll be able to stay safe on the road.

2. Know how to use your headlights.

It's less troublesome if you're driving on the road where it is well-lit. But there will be times when you're going to have to pass through areas where there are only a few street lights. Use your high beam to increase visibility on the road. But remember to shift to a low beam whenever there is an oncoming vehicle. You can do this when the vehicle is within 200 metres from you. This way you're not blinding the other road users from your bright lights.

3. Take steps to increase visibility.

Listed below are the things you can do to make sure that you are doing your part for a safe night drive by increasing your visibility.

  • Keep windows clean. Another way to ensure safety when driving at night is to keep your windshield and windows clean. Dusty windows could lead to poor visibility of the road and could result in accidents.
  • Regularly clean your headlights. Dirty headlights result in poor lighting. So check your headlights to see if it's not blocked by dirt or snow.
  • Adjust side mirrors just enough to see outside. Sometimes you could get blinded by other cars' lights behind you. So one trick you could do to avoid this is the way you adjust your mirrors. See that it is just enough that you can see the cars behind you.

4. Don't drive when tired.

Driving continuously at night could lead to fatigue and this goes against safe driving. Learn the warning signs of fatigue and often take stopovers if you're going for a long drive. 

5. Look out for pedestrians. 

Always watch out for pedestrians on the road. For example, some joggers don't use reflective clothing all the time. So keep your eyes on the road and scan your surrounding to make sure no one's jumping in front of your car. 

6. Don't drink and drive. 

Never drive when you had a couple of drinks beforehand. Everyone has different alcohol tolerance. So one shot might be too much for some and would already cause them to lose balance or have blurry vision. However, having high alcohol tolerance is not an excuse for you to drive. You should still avoid driving in order to be safe for everyone around you. 

Impaired driving is dangerous, especially at night. So stay away from alcoholic drinks if you're planning to drive. 

Don't drink and drive, and you'll stay alive!

7. Avoid driving at night when you have poor vision. 

Having poor vision makes it more difficult to drive at night. Some examples of eye conditions include being near or far-sighted and astigmatism. It's harder to drive if you have astigmatism since your vision might be blurry or streaky. You might have an eye problem if you see yourself squinting your eyes when driving at night. It would be best for you to get an appointment with an optometrist.

8. Learn how to do defensive driving. 

Expect the unexpected they say. You should always engage in defensive driving when you are driving at night. Since you'll have a lesser field of vision, you should make sure to be alert. Assume a possibility of dangerous scenarios on the road so you can prepare yourself. Know how to respond to these situations so you'll be prepared to act.

9. Make yourself visible during stops. 

Always make sure you are visible to other drivers when you have to make stops during the night. Turn on your hazard lights and if planning to stop for a longer period use an early warning device. This is to ensure that you won't get hit by other road users.

10. Bring a roadside emergency kit. 

This is really important to carry with you whenever you're going for a drive. You should bring a roadside emergency kit at all times in case your car break down. You can read more on "Things to Keep in Your Car at All Times" to help you prepare for your trip.

11. Watch out for wildlife. 

There are some animals who are more active at night. Most of them go out to search for food around the area and it's no wonder if some of them wind up on the roads. So always be on the lookout. You can use your car horns if necessary to scare off animals crossing the roads.

12. Drive according to weather conditions. 

Poor weather conditions could potentially lead to accidents on the road. And driving at night makes it more dangerous since roads could become slippery. Always consider that road conditions may change when it rains so you need to keep a safe distance between cars. This way, you will not collide with each other in case they suddenly use their brakes.

13. Don't stare at oncoming cars. 

When you see cars approaching, you should avoid staring directly at their headlights. This will cause temporary blindness and is dangerous when driving at night. You can see them from afar and guess their speed and distance from you. So instead of looking at their car, you can look at the white lines on the road as a guide for your position.

14. Maintain your vehicle. 

Car owners sometimes fail to do maintenance work on their cars. This can be easily overlooked by some people thinking everything's okay as long as the car runs. But it's inevitable for cars to deteriorate after using them for quite some time. So make sure you regularly check your car to ensure it's safe for driving. 

Just doing a simple check like making sure the lights, brakes, and battery are working properly could save you from disaster on a night drive. 

You should do necessary car maintenance according to your car's manual. Aside from keeping the car safe for driving, it also helps you save money in the long run. How? Well, you'll be able to fix things as soon as it starts to wear down without leading to much greater damage. Thus, avoiding much larger and more costly issues with the car.

Driving at night isn't easy at first and it will take a few more hours for you to get used to it. So it is important to get yourself familiar with night driving and take lessons. As a result, you'll have the necessary skills for a night-drive trip and be confident on the road. Don't forget to bring the items mentioned to help you out when you encounter road emergencies. Stay safe and be prepared!

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