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Keeping safe when driving after dark

Driving at night doesn’t have to be dangerous if you prepare properly and drive in a way that matches the conditions and visibility. It is tempting to feel that it is safer to cruise along at speed because the road is empty, but in fact the opposite is true and you should reduce your speed and be extra vigilant.

It is much harder to judge relative distances and speed when it’s dark. If you are on a long, unlit stretch of road, your headlights may only illuminate a few metres ahead of you. Even on full beam, you will not have the same visibility as you have in the daytime, making it more difficult to anticipate hazards as quickly. Driving in the dark in traffic, such as on a motorway, can easily become mesmerizing, with the swaying lights ahead of you having a hypnotic effect. Driving at night also takes a great deal more concentration, as you try to get as much information from the limited input your eyes receive. Both these factors make it even more important to take regular breaks when driving at night.

Another important thing to remember when driving after about 10pm is that there is much more chance that the other road users will have had a drink before they set out to get home. They may not be swerving all over the road, as the traditional caricature would have it, or even over the limit, but their reactions may still be impaired. Driving defensively and looking out for the unexpected can help you compensate for mistakes made by other drivers, keeping you all safe on the road at night.

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