The further you travel, the more likely you are to spend some time driving at night. Empty roads without streetlights can present dangerous driving conditions. Here are a few risks to look out for the next time you have to travel long distance in the dark.
At night, there is no colour contrast to help you judge long distances. It’s effectively like seeing in 2D rather than 3D. You’ll find it harder to understand the relative distance of objects.
Unless visibility is reduced due to fog or adverse weather conditions, fog lights are not only illegal but also serve no practical purpose. At night, fog lights only project light a very short distance in front of you, when you need the light to be shining light much further ahead.
Use high beams to give you a better view of what’s ahead, but make sure to turn them off 200m before passing another car. If you’re on a dusty road, you may also need to turn them on to low beam to avoid the light reflecting off the dust.
Look out for the reflection of your headlights in animal’s eyes. You’ll likely be able to see that before you can see the rest of their body.
Keep your windscreen clean so you don’t get any glare.
Very dark or foggy nights have reduced visual stimuli and it is easy to miss seeing hazards, so adjust your speed accordingly, especially if you’re not familiar with the road.
Most newer cars have rear vision mirrors with two settings: day and night. Adjusting it means that you won’t be blinded by glare from car headlights behind you.
Using the interior light while driving means your eyes are adjusting to the light inside the car and then suddenly to the low level of light outside. It takes time for your eyes to readjust which leaves you driving with impaired vision and more likely to miss important details.
Keep in mind that driving when you would usually be asleep gives you a high risk of fatigue. Your body clock is more demanding than you might think. For most people, this means that you should not be driving between 12am and 6am.
Start your journey in the morning when your mind is most active and rested, but avoid sunrise and sunset. It’s the most likely time to experience animals coming out and about or get caught in sun glare.