Driving at night can be tricky and often more so as we get older.
Your eyesight changes in later life and this may make it harder to see road signs and other road users, especially in low light.
Did you know that between the ages of 15 and 65 the recovery time from glare increases from 2 to 9 seconds. This may be why as we get older we don’t like to drive at night. Older drivers frequently have difficulty seeing in poor light conditions as our eyes become less able to react quickly to changes in light. As we get older we also start have difficulty with colours and contrasts in poor light.
Follow these safety tips in order to stay safe on the road at night:
- Make sure to keep your windscreen clean, inside and out. Dust or grime on the inside can create additional glare, especially at dawn and dusk.
- Check that your headlights, side lights and indicators are all working correctly before driving at night.
- In the United Kingdom, there is a legally enforced lighting-up time at night (hours of darkness), defined as from half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise, during which all motor vehicles on unlit public roads (except if parked) must use their headlights.
- Make sure you leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front to provide you a ‘Safety bubble’ to allow you additional thinking and stopping time in case of an emergency.
- Consider dimming your dashboard lights to avoid distraction
- If you wear glasses, they should be anti-reflective so the headlights from other cars don’t impair your vision. Anti-reflective lenses can help reduce the strain on your eyes. Some people like to use a yellow filter on their glasses at night (always consult an optician before doing this) however, these can make different colours become duller and make reading traffic lights difficult.
- Look away from oncoming lights to ensure your eyes don’t become temporarily blinded and glazed. Try looking down and to the left of the road momentarily if you are dazzled by glare.
- Adjust your interior mirror to the dipped position to avoid being dazzled by following vehicles
- Don’t drive when you are tired. You put yourself and others at risk
- Make sure your headlights are adjusted correctly to ensure you have the right amount of visibility.
- Don’t drive on full beam all the time. Be considerate to other motorists, you know what it feels like too be blinded by someone else, so don’t do it yourself. It is not safe and can cause a collision and put you and other road users at risk.
- Look for reflections in the dark. These reflections could possibly be from an animal’s eyes up ahead. You’ll see the reflections way before you see the actual animal so make sure you slow down if you see them.
- Don’t rush. It’s better to be late to where you’re going than to speed and risk your life. Its better to arrive late than not at all.
- Don’t be a distracted driver. Texting, eating or something as simple as fiddling with the radio can take your attention away from the road. Don’t risk it and focus on the task at hand.
The number of road casualties rises, with the effects being worse for the most vulnerable road users like children, older people, cyclists and motorcyclists.
Recent research by the RAC Foundation in 2019 confirmed that road traffic collisions increase by 19 per cent in the fortnight after putting the clocks back one hour from British Summer Time (BST) to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
So what can you do:
- Recognise it takes time to adjust. Be conscious about the time. You won’t be used to driving in darkness with decreased visibility during rush hour traffic when the time first changes. Traffic is at a peak during this time.
- Get adequate sleep. Many people look forward to an extra hour of sleep when the clocks turn back, but it takes time for your biological clock to reset. You’d be surprised how much the time change can affect your body throughout the day. You may feel more tired than usual during the week following the time change. It’s important to recognise that the time change can affect your sleeping habits as well.
- Prepare your vehicle for the changing seasons. With the end of daylight savings, also begins the weather changes. Once the clocks turn back, that means that winter is officially on its way. Take this time to properly prepare your vehicle for the weather changes that are ahead. Make sure your tyres are ready for the winter weather. Check all your fluid levels and replenish as needed.