Driving after the sun goes down offers a rather different experience to driving in daylight. Speed is more difficult to judge, distances are harder to calculate, facing a wall of headlights can cause distraction and impaired vision, and you are likely to be more tired than usual.
So here are a few tips to help make your drive as safe and enjoyable as possible, courtesy of Peter Rodger of the Institute of Advanced Motorists in the UK:
- To improve your view as far as possible, keep your lights and windscreen clean. You should clean the inside of your windscreen as well as the exterior.
- Use main beam to maximise the distance which you can see ahead, but when other drivers are approaching, make sure you dip your lights to avoid dazzling the oncoming traffic.
- Turn off your interior lights and dim the dashboard if possible — this will cut down on interior reflections on your windows.
- Make sure you can stop safely within the distance you can see to be clear. Following distances should be increased during hours of darkness, and even more so if the weather has made the roads more slippery.
- If you're feeling tired, caffeine alone is not a fix. Take a break and have a 20-minute nap in a safe location. Opening your window to let some cool fresh air in will also help to perk you up.
- Motorway driving can be monotonous, so share the driving is possible.
- Look at how the traffic in front of you behaves for clues to possible problems you can't see yet. You should especially stay on the lookout for brake lights up ahead.
- If you break down, pull over on to the hard shoulder and stop as far to the left as you can, pointing your wheels in towards the kerb. Then leave your vehicle and stand behind a crash barrier if there is one.