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A Department for Transport study revealed that although only 15% of vehicle miles are clocked between 7pm and 7am, they account for almost one third of road injuries and deaths, due to reduced visibility and increased difficulty judging speed and distance.
It can take some time to adjust to the reduced daylight hours, and it can be particularly daunting for drivers. Below are Trusted Dealers’ top tips to prepare motorists for driving in the twilight zone.
Sadly at this time of year it is common for the volume of drink/drug drivers to increase on the roads. Its therefore important for drivers to recognise motorists who appear to be behaving erratically and provide them with more space, as well as alert the police if sensible to do so. In addition, motorists need to watch out for pedestrians, especially near pubs and clubs at closing time – they could be under the influence and therefore not as street aware as they should be.
Check your lights
It is a good idea to check your lights at this time of year to make sure they are all in working order. Turn your lights on then walk around your car to check they are all working. To check your reversing lights, you can ask a friend to watch you reverse or reverse close to a reflective wall or garage door so you can see in the reflection whether your lights are both working or not. If you’re not confident to change the bulb yourself, normally shops such as Halfords will do this for you, so just ask.
Take an eye test
It’s vital to get regular eye checks if you’re a driver, whether it’s the height of summer of the middle of winter. It is illegal to drive a car if you cannot meet the standards of vision for driving which state that you must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses if necessary) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres away. For more information click here, and remember that with ages your eyes take in less light, so no matter how fit you may feel, always be aware of your limitations.
Avoid dazzling drivers
One of the biggest night-time hazards is the dazzle affect which is caused by the bright light from on-coming motorists, particularly those who have failed to dip their headlights. Seeing a car approach you with full beam is heavily distracting for a driver so always remember to dip your headlights when you meet other vehicles. If a car does approach you with full beam, try to avoid looking at its headlights, focus on the road ahead, reduce your speed and keep your attention on the left-hand kerb.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists advises turning your headlights on before sunset and keeping them on for an hour after sunrise to make it easier for other drivers to spot you in the twilight. To make sure this is effective, make sure all your exterior lights are clean and in full working order, and avoid putting your interior lights on at any time as this can be confusing for another driver. In addition, make sure your windows are clean both inside and out. Dirty windows can increase glare from other vehicles and are more prone to steaming up.
Always focus on the road ahead to predict any potential hazards that could arise during night time driving hours. Look out for early signs of oncoming drivers, for example, glimmers of light at the top of hills and at bends could be the headlights of other vehicles, providing you with prior warning. Look carefully for pedestrians and cyclists at night. In the dark they can be more difficult to spot, particularly if they’re not wearing reflective clothing.
If you’re driving long distances, take regular breaks, particularly if you’re driving overnight. Make sure you stop for a rest every two hours and keep your caffeine levels high in order to stay alert. If you’re feeling particularly drowsy, pull over and take a nap in your car at the nearest possible place to do so. Remember tiredness can kill.