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Top Tips For Safe Driving In The Dark This Winter

03 November 2017

With the clocks changing last month and the evenings drawing in, many people in Northern Ireland will now have to re-adjust to driving home from work, school or college in the dark.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that driving in the dark is more dangerous than driving during the day, but just how much more dangerous it can be is shocking.

A study from the Department for Transport states that while we spend only 15% of our time driving between 7pm and 7am, almost a third of road injuries and deaths occur between these times.

To help you better adjust and stay safe on the roads this winter, Specsavers has issued advice on how to drive safely in the darker evenings.

Be Aware Of How The Dark Affects Driving

Your depth perception, ability to distinguish colour and peripheral vision are all dramatically decreased in low-light conditions, all of which can have a big impact on your ability to judge the road ahead.

It also makes it harder to gauge the speed of your own vehicle and that of other vehicles around you, while it can be more difficult to spot pedestrians and cyclists in the dark.

Drivers tend to be more tired at night time too, which can have an impact on concentration and increase the risk of having an accident.

Keep Your Car Clean To Stop Glare

It’s important to keep your windscreen, windows and mirrors clean during the winter, as dirty windows and mirrors will reduce your ability to see what’s going on around you.

A windscreen which is smudged or dirty will also intensify the glare from other vehicles’ headlights, potentially stopping you from being able to see where you’re doing.

Dirt particles also gives moisture inside your car a surface to latch on to and can make your windows more prone to fogging up, something which can be a particular problem in the colder months.

Avoid Being Dazzled By Bright Headlights

Increasing numbers of modern vehicles are coming fitted with LED and xenon headlights, both of which are brighter more intense than conventional halogen lights.

This can be of great benefit to the driver as it illuminates much more of the road than regular headlights would, but can be problematic for anyone driving an oncoming vehicle.

It’s recommended that you avert your gaze from headlights in order to avoid being dazzled and concentrate on your own side of the road. If you drive a car with bright, modern headlights you should also stay aware of how your own car could affect oncoming traffic.

Turn Down The Brightness On In-Car Screens

Many new cars will also come fitted with some sort of in-car touchscreen or sat-nav system which can reflect off the windscreen and cause glare or force your eyes to have to re-adjust to different light levels every time you look down at it.

If it’s possible, you should turn the brightness on these screens or devices down when driving in the dark, which will make it much easier to see and therefore safer.

You can also buy anti-glare protectors for many devices and screens, which stick over the top of the screen and reduce the amount of glare given off from them.

Get Your Eyesight Checked Regularly

Specsavers advises that you should have your eyesight tested at least every two years, but that anyone experiencing problems with their vision while driving should book an eye exam as soon as possible.

As we age, the lenses inside our eyes lose their transparency which can result in you experiencing more glare when driving at night, even if there’s no other problems with your vision.

If you experience eye tiredness while driving in the dark, you can reduce the effects of eye fatigue by keeping your eyes moving and scanning the road ahead, rather than just focusing in a single area.

Read more: How To Stay Safe Driving In High Wind And Stormy Weather