Driving conditions are remarkably different in the night time, and at this time of year the darkness draws in much earlier in the evening. Your vision is reduced and it can be more difficult to spot hazards such as bends and junctions and to see vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. It is important to take such factors into consideration if you have staff members expected to drive as part of their duties.
Road casualty statistics show that 40% of collisions occur in the hours of darkness. The danger of falling asleep at the wheel is a significant factor at night and accounts for 20% of serious accidents on motorways and monotonous roads in Great Britain. Although only 15% of vehicle miles are clocked between 7pm and 7am, they account for almost a third of road injuries and deaths. This is according to a 2016 study from the Department for Transport.
- If you have to drive at night then plan the journey in advance. If you are going with other people who can legally drive the vehicle, then consider sharing the driving.
- Ensure that you and any other drivers are well rested before the journey and book overnight stops where necessary.
- Avoid driving at times when you would usually be asleep.
- You will also need to plan the route, and rest breaks at least every two hours. As mentioned, there are very few situations where drivers fall asleep at the wheel without prior warning, and to counter this you could also plan regular places along the routes where you can pull off – so that if you do become fatigued, you will have planned somewhere safe to get rest.
- Ensure your lights are working and are clean and visible especially in the winter months.
- Drive at a speed that allows you to spot hazards and react accordingly.
- Young drivers who have not built up experience of night time driving are especially more susceptible to collisions at night. Novice drivers can take a further driver training scheme called Pass Plus, https://www.gov.uk/pass-plus which contains a night driving module and will provide some of the skills necessary for safe night driving.
Tips for preparing your car for night time journeys.
- Keep windows clean to avoid increased glare and condensation.
- Don’t dazzle others - dip your lights when faced with another road user.
- Help drivers see you in twilight by turning your headlights on before sunset and keeping them on for an hour after sunrise.
- Have your eyes checked regularly for problems which can affect your night vision.
- Be aware that other road users may behave erratically, so be prepared to give them more space.
- Watch out for pedestrians, especially near pubs and clubs around closing time.
- Allow more time for your own journey, so you're not driving under pressure.
- If you can, dim your dashboard lights and reduce reflections and avoid reducing your night vision.