Autumn is here. We know what this means; dark and dreich mornings with even darker and dreich nights. The clocks go back on Sunday 27th October. When the clocks go back, we go from an average of 16 hours of daylight in the summer to a mere 8 hours of daylight in the winter. Spending up to 16 hours of our day in darkness requires extra care and caution; particularly when travelling on the roads.
According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, 40% of all road collisions occur in the hours of darkness. Therefore, we must ensure that we take extra precautions to ensure our safety and the safety of other road users. Last winter, I fell foul to a nasty road accident when I was driving on a dark January night. As a result of the accident, I am extra vigilant and have adopted a more cautious approach when driving in the dark. Here are my top tips for staying safe on the roads at night:
Always be prepared
An emergency breakdown kit will be your best friend if you are stuck on the side of a road on a cold winter’s night. Equip your car with blankets, gloves, a hat, water, de-icer and a charged portable charger. After my accident, my phone ran out of charge and I had to borrow the police officer’s mobile! Although it may seem slightly unnecessary, if you are ever in an accident an emergency kit will prove to be invaluable.
Check your lights
We are all guilty of not checking if our headlights or tail lights are working correctly but visibility is so important when travelling in the dark. Properly working lights ensure that you can clearly see other drivers and ensures you are visible to others, especially when travelling on country roads. When driving along country roads, make sure you turn off you full beam headlights as soon as you see an approaching car to prevent ‘dazzling’ the other driver.
Keep your car clean
Don’t let the grime and dirt that gathers on your car build up! If you have a dirty windscreen or back window, you are reducing your visibility significantly. You may easily miss things such as animals or cyclists and are more likely to contribute to an accident.
Take a break
When driving long distances you should always take sufficient rest breaks, especially at night. Fatigue is a contributory factor in up to 20% of all road accidents according to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. According to the Highway Code you should be taking a break of at least 15 minutes every two hours. Regular breaks will keep you alert and help prevent you being involved in any collisions.
Keep distractions to a minimum
There is great temptation when driving to get momentarily distracted by your favourite song or podcast and not give 100% of your attention to the road but this is exactly when accidents are more likely to occur. When driving with passengers in the car ensure that you are not too engrossed in conversations and do not be afraid to tell passengers to quieten down – your safety and theirs is at risk!