Don’t die in the dark – be savvy when night-driving

  • Meeting the dangers of night-driving
  • Watch out for those modern headlights
  • Don’t play chicken with headlights

DRIVING AT NIGHT is dangerous. About 56%of crashes occur between 6pm and 6am according to statistics from the South African Road Transport Management Corporation so the SA Automobile Association has some advice.

Given the number of vehicles on the road being way fewer than during daylight, you can understand the hugely increased peril. So, spend a few minutes reading this feature and, perhaps, avoid a collision.

The AA says: “Most important, anybody who suspects they have night-vision problems (You might not even be aware of it! – Ed) should consult a doctor or optometrist. Be honest with yourself about this!

“Anybody who needs prescription spectacles to drive must wear them, especially in poor light. Don’t let vanity outweigh safety.”

Unless you’r on a familiar route, the AA adds, have a clear route planned – perhaps stick to main roads rather than saving time or distance.

More useful night-driving tips from the AA:

  • Make sure your vehicle’s head- and brake lights and those on a trailer are working.
  • Keep your windscreen and rear window clean; make sure your demister is working properly.
  • Avoid keeping your eyes focused at a single distance – it can cause eye fatigue.
  • Don’t drive faster than the range of your vision – you must be able to stop within the distance illuminated by your headlights.
  • Turn on your headlights before sunset, keep them on after sunrise. You’ll be more visible to other drivers.
  • Don’t blind other road users. Dip your headlights in good time, whether approaching or following another vehicle. Don’t retaliate if the approaching driver doesn’t dip  – two blinded drivers is  worse than one.
  • Maintain a safe following distance. Your reaction time might be slower at night.

The AA says driving slower at night is a good option. A study by the AA in America suggests that halogen headlights, found in most modern cars, might not safely illuminate unlit roads – even at 60km/h.

The AAA noted: “Tests to measure how well modern headlights work on non-reflective objects on low- or high-beam showed that, on an unlit road, they did not illuminate the full distance required to identify, react to, and stop before hitting an object.”

Driving at night may be intimidating for some, especially new, drivers. It was important to be comfortable, and able, to drive at night before taking on a long night trip.

“If you must drive at night make sure you’re well-rested. Fatigue is as dangerous as driving drunk.”

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