The beast of the night – driving after dark

You might have grown out of cowering under your covers at the sight of your bedroom in the dark, but that doesn’t mean things no longer look different come night. Roads are no exception. However well you might think you know them, they can be a different beast come nightfall.

night driving

Don’t be complacent

Familiarity breeds contempt, so don’t be fooled into thinking you are safe just because you know a road well. As stated in the safety code for new drivers, many of the worst collisions happen at night. Between midnight and 6 am is a time of high risk for new drivers. However well you know a road by day, it can be different by night. There will be different people using the road, and you may find junctions appear sooner than you remember them to. Even if you have travelled the road many times at night before, roads are constantly changing and there could be an obstruction in the carriageway where you least expect. Conditions of darkness will make this much harder to see.

Don’t let good lighting fool you

When you think of driving in the dark, the first thing that probably comes to mind is country roads, where your own headlights are the only lights for miles around. You probably know to be extra cautious in these circumstances, and will adjust your driving style accordingly. Once you arrive in a residential area, with lots of streetlights, or a town centre, lit up not just by streetlights, but also by other cars, shops and pubs, it is easier to be fooled into thinking visibility is better than it actually is, especially if you have been driving on an unlit road to get there. However good the lighting, it is no match for daylight, as there will always be shadows and dark spots.

Watch your speed

During the day, your speed will often be restricted by the vehicle in front of you. Come night, there is much less traffic around, and it is a lot easier for your speed to creep up. Conditions of darkness make it more difficult for you to judge your speed, and hazards harder to spot. By keeping a close eye on your speed and sticking within the limit, you give yourself more time to react to any hazards up ahead.

Watch out for pedestrians

When darkness falls, away go bright, colourful t-shirts and sun dresses, and out come dark jumpers, coats and jackets. High visibility jackets are not usually found in your typical high-street clothes shops, and are not something most people would consider wearing when walking on a lit street, even if they regularly wear them for cycling or running. When the roads are quiet, pedestrians often cross the road in unusual places, even if there is a crossing relatively nearby. This leads to a dangerous combination of people who are hard to spot, being in the middle of the road where you would least expect to see them.

No matter how good your driving is as a seasoned or new driver, there is always the possibility of being in a collision that is not your fault, so before taking to the roads, make sure your car insurance policy is up to date.


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