Some of us will avoid driving in the dark if we can, but sometimes it is unavoidable. As 40% of all accidents occur during the dark, we have to keep our wits about us and make sure we are as prepared for it as we can be.
Visibility is dramatically reduced, the temperature drops and there is also a risk of falling asleep at the wheel which would be extremely dangerous.
If you are going to be driving in the dark this winter, we want to give you some hints and tips to make sure that you are as safe as you can be.
Clean Your Windows
One of the main factors for collisions occurring during the dark is visibility. Whilst we can do nothing about it going dark, we can make sure we can see as much around us as possible. It may not be noticeable during the daytime but dust and dirt build up on your windows- inside and out. As soon as it becomes dark, the glare from headlights can make for very poor visibility.
Take a Look at Your Lights
Making sure you can see other drivers is half of it, but you need to make sure other drivers can see you. This is why you need to make sure all of your lights are working correctly. It is not only a hazard to you and other road users to drive without fully operating lights, it is illegal and can mean you are stopped by the police. You also need to test the brightness of your lights, driving with lights that are too bright (when not using full beam) can dazzle other road users- which can be dangerous for them.
Be Seen on the Kerbside
Whatever the reason may be, if you need to pull over at the side of the road- you need to make sure you can be seen. Carry a warning triangle and hi-vis jackets in your vehicle so that you can be seen if you have to get out of your vehicle. If you have broken down and you are waiting for breakdown assistance, it is best to wait inside your vehicle with your hazard warning lights on for your safety.
Do Not Look Into the Light
If you have ever looked at the sun, you will know the effect it has on your vision. Looking directly into other vehicle’s headlights can temporarily blind you and you may miss something on the road ahead. To avoid this, look slightly below the path of the lights and onto the white line. This will mean you avoid the temporary visual impairment.
Do Not Let Your Attention Be Taken
This should be a general rule whenever you are driving. However, it is even more important to when driving in the dark. If you are changing a song, the climate control settings or anything else is taking your attention it is important to focus on the road as much as possible. When you are driving in the dark, for a lot of people it is after a day at work which will already mean delayed reaction times due to tiredness. So make sure you are as focused on the road as you can be when you drive in the dark.
Be Aware of What is Around You
In the winter, darkness can set in from around 3pm which means there will be children and elderly people on the streets- who may not have seen you, which means you have to be extra vigilant. Another risk to think about at this time is cyclists, if they are not in the correct attire, they may be hard to spot. If you are driving near fields or countryside, you may have to look out for animals on the road as.
Make Space, Reduce Speed
The three-second rule means leaving a three-second gap between you and the vehicle in front of you. You can measure this by watching the vehicle in front pass a stationary object, waiting three seconds and then allowing yourself to pass the same object. This means that you have thinking time should things change with the vehicle front of you.
Practice Makes Perfect
Another cause of road accidents can be hesitation, you can rectify this by making sure you are confident with driving when it does get dark. Even if you are only close to home, making sure you drive in the dark more often will mean you get better at it and make you safer should you have to do it.
Driving in the dark can be daunting if you are not used to it or you are new to driving but by following the tips in this article- you can be sure you stay safe when you are out at night!
If you want more information for how to stay safe when you are out driving, check out our Van Driver Toolkit here!
As always, thanks for reading and we hope to see you again soon!