Winter Nights – Safety Driving
November 9, 2011barriehol
Once again our politicians at Westminster have bowed to the Scottish lobby and missed another opportunity to ditch the ludicrous time warp that is Daylight Saving Time which now plunges us all into darkness by 4pm. I dislike driving in the dark at the best of times but in deep winter with any combination of ice, snow, fog and rain the commute home is even more hazardous and stressful.
Traffic death rates are three times greater at night, yet many of us are unaware of the hazards that night driving poses or effective ways to minimise the risk. It is therefore all the more important to prepare for your journey and take sensible safety precautions to protect you and your passengers.
Start out by ensuring the vehicle is roadworthy. Check for blown bulbs, check tyre pressures and oil levels, fill the screen wash tanks and check the cabin demist is working.
When driving at night follow these tips on safer driving
- Use your lights responsibly – Turn headlights on one hour before sunset and leave on for at least half an hour after sunrise to make it easier for other drivers to see you in early twilight. Use your high beams sparingly at all times but in fog use low beam headlights in conjunction with fog lamps if you have them.
- Avoid glare – Don’t look directly at oncoming headlights and use the day night shift on the rear view mirror to prevent glare from following traffic.
- Keep all windows and headlights clean – Dirty windows diffuse light and can increase glare, making it more difficult to see, while dirty headlights can reduce efficiency by as much as 90 percent.
- Be alert – Look for flashes of light at hilltops, curves and junctions that may indicate the headlights of approaching vehicles.
- Increase your following distance – Increasing your distance by four to five seconds can make it easier to spot potential problems on the roadway and give you more time to react safely.
- Avoid fatigue – Night driving can be tiring, so on long journeys ensure good ventilation inside the cabin, and take frequent refreshment breaks to give your eyes a chance to recover. Take a short nap or a brisk walk, or have some caffeine to help you stay alert.
- Glasses– Anti-reflective (AR) coating reduces internal reflections in the lenses. AR-coated glasses also transmit more light than regular lenses which can improve vision at night.
Finally if we have anything like the winter of last year you should also consider equipping the car with a winter survival pack to get you out of trouble should you break down or become stranded.
Carry at least one reflective warning triangle in case of a vehicle breakdown, so you are as visible to other drivers as possible. A snow shovel and small tub of icemelt is a must to escape from drifts and icy roads. To sustain body and mind having warm weather proof clothing, rugged rigger boots, a blanket, thermos and a supply of high energy food would be a potential lifesaver.
If you have more tips for our readers then let us know.