Poorly lit streets, unmarked roads, potholes, opportunistic criminals and drunk drivers & pedestrians making driving at night a challenge
Driving at night can be difficult at the best of times and quite simply daunting and dangerous at the worst of times. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are out and about after the sun has set.
- BE ALERT AND SCAN THE ROAD: The ability to continuously survey the road, is a very underestimated defensive driving tactic. When you keep your eyes peeled for movement along the side of the road (stray animals, cyclists, children etc), minimizes the element of surprise, giving you valuable seconds in which to react. Being alert also includes glancing regularly into your rear-view and side mirrors which can be helpful when it comes to spotting criminals who may sneak up behind you.
- AIM YOUR HEADLIGHTS: Headlights are sometimes pointed slightly higher or lower than is suitable to your seating height, so it’s worthwhile to take the time to re-position them. Most modern cars have a dial (usually located on the right hand side of the dashboard in the vicinity of the manual headlight controls), which allow you to reposition the beam either in an upward or downward direction.
- AVOID STARING AT ONCOMING LIGHTS: Just as a moth is attracted to an open flame, so too are we drawn to the lights of oncoming traffic. With the interior of your vehicle being dimly lit, the harshness of bright lights approaching you can cause temporary blindness often with fatal consequences. Make a conscious effort to turn your gaze away from oncoming lights, even if it means taking your foot off the gas to slow the vehicle down until you feel more confident about your ability to see where you are going. Of course, bright lights don’t always appear from the front and many a motorist has experienced the pain of being blinded by a vehicle in their rear. Instead of reacting angrily and stomping on the brakes to demonstrate your annoyance, simply tilt your rear-view mirror away from your direct line of vision. Don’t forget to re-adjust it back to its normal position once the offending driver has overtaken you.
- DIM THE DASHBOARD LIGHTS: More and more vehicles are built with large infotainment screens, interior ambient lighting and dazzling dashboard LEDs, resulting in excessive light within the cabin of your car. Fortunately, most cars, including some older models, come standard with dashboard dimmer switches, allowing you to adjust interior lighting to suit the sensitivity of your eyes. Dimming interior lights vastly reduces reflections on the windscreen or panoramic roof resulting in vastly improved night-time visibility and all-round driving safety.
- CLEAN YOUR MIRROS, LIGHT COVERS AND WINDOWS: Dirty windscreens, windows and mirrors can reflect and distort light which can distract the driver. Dirty mirrors reflect light from other vehicles in a wider, diffused shape that can produce a glare in your eyes. Over time, plastic headlight covers become yellow or faded and could thus reduce the effectiveness of your headlights. Either have them replaced or cleaned professionally so that your lights can shine unobstructed. If your headlights don’t have plastic covers, make it a point to clean them with a simple solution of detergent and water before heading out into the night.