Driving at night
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Driving tips and other life stuff

What makes driving at night dangerous?

Driving at night is sometimes unavoidable: it's when you're driving to the airport to catch the cheap flight, picking friends up from parties like a boss, returning home from a late shift.

That's why ingenie never has and never will have anything to do with curfews for young drivers. But it is a lot more dangerous to drive at night than in the day, and you need to be aware of the reasons.

  1. You're tired

    Hey, your brain knows when you should be sleeping! Asking it to go outside and operate a hulk of metal when it's bedtime is something it doesn't like much.

    You're much more at risk of being distracted from the road by drowsiness, and could even find yourself 'micro-sleeping' at the wheel: accidentally taking tiny naps of anything from a fraction of a second to 30 seconds.

    At 70mph, you would travel more than 150 metres in the 5 seconds you nodded off. With no one driving.

    Kill someone because you were sleepy at the wheel and you'll be charged with causing death by dangerous driving.
  2. It's tempting to take risks

    The open road, the glorious emptiness. It calls to everyone, but the fact that there are fewer people around means you're more likely to take risks you wouldn't usually even consider.

    It may seem like speeding is harmless if there's no one on the road, but if you're not expecting to come up against any hazards, you're not prepared to react. At high speed, that lack of expectation and awareness is deadly.

    Couple that with the possibility that the one driver you do meet could be tired, drunk, high or all 3 and you have a recipe for disaster. If anything, you should be driving more carefully at night, not less.

  3. It's dark

    You may have seen this phenomenon if you've ever been outside: all the light leaks out of the sky and visibility is gradually reduced.

    Humans can't see in the dark. It's a big design flaw and we've done a lot of work to get around it, with reflective road markings, cats eyes and fancy LED headlights.

    However, even modern car headlights only light up around 120 metres ahead of you.

    So if your headlights shine on a sharp bend when you're travelling at 50mph, you'll have just 4 seconds to react.

    You must be able to stop in the distance your lights reach. Don't speed.
  4. Your passengers are no help

    If you're driving at night, it's not unlikely that you're ferrying around people who have had a few drinks. When they're singing, shouting, dancing and generally having lots of fun while you're driving, it's pretty hard for you to be 100% focused on the road.

    I'd say don't have rowdy people in your car but I know that's not practical advice. Just be confident enough to tell them to pipe down and wear their seatbelts. And avoid their offers of take-out vino like the plague.

    Find out how to be the designated driver in style.
  5. If you're driving at night, make sure you know all the rules for using your car lights.


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Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. Her first car is a Peugeot 206 cabriolet, which is a very sensible choice for the British climate. Follow her on .