Let’s face it, night time driving makes a lot of drivers nervous. And with good reason; it can be dangerous. In fact, approximately 20% of serious motorway (and monotonous road) accidents happen because people dozed off behind the wheel. We hate to be a buzzkill if you’re a night owl that enjoys cruising after sunset, but it is true.
Think about it – put together decreased visibility, with sneaky pedestrians, the occasional wildlife encounter (oh deer!), and a dose of tiredness, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. And let’s be honest, breaking down at night in the middle of nowhere is how lots of those gruesome horror movies start. No wonder 31% of drivers in the UK fear driving at night.
So whether you’re sharing the driving with short term car insurance or driving alone, it’s important to take steps to stay safe at night. To help you navigate the roads after dark, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to staying safe when the sun goes down, packed with tips and tricks to make your journey just a little easier.
We’ve even got a handy table of contents to help you get to the important bits quicker. So read on and guzzle down that coffee if you’re about to set off.
- How to stay safe when driving at night
- Look after your personal safety
- Spot and avoid tiredness behind the wheel
- Make sure you’re making the most of your navigation
- Keep your ride roadworthy
- Keep an eye on your headlights at night
- Extra nighttime driving tips to keep you safe
- Tips for driving at night: An overview
Look after your personal safety
We’ve established that driving at night comes with its own set of risks. But you know what? You’re a smart, savvy cookie and you’re not about to let a little darkness cramp your style. So let’s talk about personal safety on the road.
And while these personal safety tips are particularly pertinent at night, you’d do well to keep them in mind during the day as well.
Tell people where you’re going and when you’re getting there
To start with, if you have to drive at night, make sure you keep your peeps in the loop. Whether it’s your BFF or your mum, just give them a heads up so they know where you’re going and when you’re due to get there. That way, if you’re late, they’ll know to check in and take action.
Make sure your mobile phone is charged
Now, onto your trusty sidekick: the mobile phone. Make sure your phone is fully charged before hitting the road, because nothing’s worse than being stranded with a dead battery. Pro tip: get yourself a power bank or charging cable for your car so you never have to worry about running out of juice. Trust us, your future self will thank you when you’re not stuck on the side of the road playing “I Spy” with a hedgehog.
Keep your windows rolled and doors locked
When driving through unfamiliar areas at night, it’s always a good idea to keep your doors locked and windows up. This also goes for waiting at traffic lights or even scarfing down your drive-thru burger in the car park. Basically, keep your doors locked, so creepy randos off the street can’t get in.
Spot and avoid tiredness behind the wheel
We’ve all been there – you’re cruising along, feeling like a boss, when suddenly your eyelids start getting heavier than your grandma’s fruitcake. But fear not, because we’ve got some tips to help you stay awake and alert, even when your body’s begging for some shut-eye.
You’ve got to know the signs of fatigue and take action when you notice them. So, for example, if you find yourself yawning more than a bored teenager in history class, it might be time to pull over for a break. Other warning signs include heavy eyelids, trouble focusing, and drifting off into daydreams about Harry Styles (okay, maybe that last one’s just us). The point is, if you’re feeling sleepy, don’t push through it – take a break and recharge those batteries.
If you’re driving with a friend, now might be the time to sort out short term car insurance so they can take over the driving while you get some shut-eye. If you’re driving alone, the best thing to do is to have two cups of coffee and take a short 15 minute nap. If that doesn’t help, you’ve got to find somewhere to spend the night.
If you’re not at the stage yet where you need to pull over thought, you could keep your energy up by jamming out to some upbeat tunes or engaging podcasts. Just make sure you don’t get too into that true crime podcast and start suspecting every car behind you is a serial killer. Yikes!
Another tip is to keep the conversation flowing with your passengers (if you have any). Chatting with your friends can help keep your brain engaged and focused on the task at hand. Plus, who doesn’t love a good gossip session at 2 am?
But the real MVP of staying awake while driving at night? Getting enough sleep before you hit the road. It might sound obvious, but it’s seriously underrated. So, do yourself a favour and catch those Z’s before you embark on your late-night adventure.
Make sure you’re making the most of your navigation
Your phone typically comes with night time mode. Make use of it when using the navigation app of your choice. Night mode reduces glare and distractions, allowing you to focus on what’s really important: not crashing. Plus, it’s like having a personal assistant who whispers sweet directions in your ear, guiding you through the darkness. Sorry to sound like your parents, but please don’t use your mobile while driving – even for navigation. Set it before you move off, and park up if you need to change it.
Plan your route and make arrangements
Alright, so you’ve got Google Maps and night mode all set up. But let’s be real – nobody wants to rely solely on technology. What if your phone dies or loses signal? That’s where pre-planning your route comes in.
Before you hit the road, take some time to familiarise yourself with the journey you’re about to embark on. Check out alternate routes in case of traffic, construction, or detours. It’s like studying for a test – you’ll feel a whole lot more confident if you know what you’re in for.
And hey, if you want to kick it old-school, there’s nothing wrong with busting out a physical map and a trusty highlighter. That way, if Google Maps fails you, you’ll have a hard copy of your route right there.
Keep your ride roadworthy
Nothing ruins a late-night adventure faster than a flat tyre or dodgy brakes. So let’s dive into how to keep your ride in tip-top shape for those midnight escapades.
Get the basics right
You know that feeling when you’re about to head out and realize your outfit is missing something? Well, your car feels the same way when you forget to check its tyre pressure, tyre tread depth, oil, and other essentials. So, treat your ride like you would your wardrobe – with care and attention to detail. Regularly check those tyres, top up the oil, and make sure your car’s fluids are looking fresh. Your car will thank you with the smoothest of drives, and you’ll look like an absolute boss behind the wheel.
Check the brakes are working right
Nobody wants a bumpy ride or squeaky brakes ruining their night time vibes. So, give your car’s brakes the love they deserve by ensuring they’re in good working order. Let’s talk about some signs that your car’s brakes might need some attention:
- Squeaking or squealing noises: If you hear high-pitched sounds when you hit the brakes, it could mean the brake pads are worn out and need to be replaced.
- Grinding noises: This can indicate that your brake pads are completely worn down, causing metal-on-metal contact between the brake discs and calipers.
- Vibrations or pulsations: If your brake pedal or steering wheel vibrates when braking, it might be a sign that your brake discs are warped or unevenly worn.
- Soft or spongy brake pedal: If it takes more effort than usual to press the brake pedal or it feels soft, this could indicate an issue with your brakes.
- Longer stopping distances: If you notice it takes longer to come to a complete stop, it’s a clear sign that your braking system isn’t performing at its best.
- Pulling to one side: Does your car pull to one side specifically when braking?
If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to get your brakes checked by a professional to ensure your safety on the road.
Service your car
We know, we know – getting your car serviced is about as exciting as watching paint dry. But think of it this way: you wouldn’t skip your annual check-up with the dentist, right? (Well, maybe you would, but that’s a whole other story.) The point is, routine maintenance is like a spa day for your car, keeping it in peak condition and ready to slay the night. Plus, it’ll save you from any nasty surprises down the road (pun intended).
Keep an eye on your headlights at night
Let’s cover the basics first. You’re driving down a dark road, jamming to your fave tunes, when suddenly another car appears. Do you blind them with your high beams, or do you show some courtesy and switch to your low beams? The answer, my friends, is low beams.
Save those high beams for when you’re on an unlit road with no other drivers around – that way, you can see further without turning other drivers into temporary vampires (you know, the ones who hiss at bright lights).
Next on the agenda: adjusting your headlights for optimal visibility. Sure, you might think your car’s headlights are doing just fine, but what if we told you they could be even better? Just like finding the perfect angle for your selfies, adjusting your headlights can make a world of difference for your nighttime driving experience. So play around with the angles, and find the sweet spot that illuminates the road ahead without blinding oncoming traffic.
Last but not least, let’s talk about keeping those headlights clean. Much like your bedroom after a week-long Netflix binge, headlights can get dirty, and when they do, their brightness suffers.
So, give your headlights a regular spa day by cleaning them with a soft cloth and some soapy water. If they’re super cloudy, there are plenty of headlight restoration kits on the market that’ll have them shining bright like a diamond in no time.
Extra nighttime driving tips to keep you safe
When it comes to navigating the roads after dark, speed demons need not apply. That’s right – it’s time to channel your inner tortoise and slow right down. Slowing down gives you more time to react to any unexpected surprises that might pop up on the road.
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to increase your distance. Give yourself plenty of space from other vehicles so you can avoid any sudden stops or swerves. Remember, it’s better to arrive fashionably late than not at all.
Keep an eye on hazards
Nighttime driving means being extra cautious about hazards, like pedestrians, junctions, and other obstacles that might be harder to spot in the dark. So channel your inner Sherlock Holmes and keep a keen eye out for anything that could be lurking in the shadows.
Pedestrians might be rocking their best all-black outfits, but that doesn’t mean they want to play a game of “chicken” with your car. So slow down, especially in areas with lots of foot traffic, and be prepared to yield when necessary.
As for junctions, treat them like a first date – approach with caution, signal your intentions, and take things slow. The last thing you want is an unexpected encounter with another car or worse, a curb.
Wildlife watch: the unexpected hazards of nighttime driving
Now let’s talk about the wild side of nighttime driving – literally. From deer to hedgehogs to foxes, and even the occasional Bigfoot sighting (okay, maybe not that wild), you never know what kind of critters might make an appearance on the road after dark.
To avoid any close encounters of the furry kind, keep your eyes peeled for any signs of wildlife, like reflective eyes or sudden rustling in the bushes. And if you do spot something ahead, slow down and give it plenty of space to cross. Trust us, Bambi’s mum would thank you if she could.
Tips for driving at night: An overview
From keeping your car in tip-top shape to mastering the art of headlights and navigation, you’re now equipped with the knowledge you need to own those moonlit roads like a boss.And if you need to share the driving, don’t forget to get yourself some short term car insurance.
And remember: Practice makes perfect. So, go ahead and apply these tips every time you venture out into the night. You’ll enjoy a safer driving experience and hopefully feel less anxious behind the wheel. When it comes to driving after dark, it’s all about being alert, cautious, and prepared for the unexpected.