The dark days are most definitely here. Gone are the days when you could drive home with the windows open enjoying the sun, now you’re leaving work or college with the lights on and the heating on full blast! What does driving in the dark mean, when your route home is along those country roads?
1. The dark
In the pitch black, you’re likely to find bends, branches and hidden dips suddenly. Use your high beams to see further up the road (and check your lights are working before you leave), but make sure you switch back to the dipped beam when you see another car, or you enter a built-up area. You may be able to see where you’re going with your full beams, but when they’re coming at you it is a different story.
2. The ice!
During the winter, it’s likely that any back roads you travel on aren’t gritted. When it’s icy, avoid using the roads at all, but if you need to drive on them, remember to brake lightly and go slow. I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of witnessing an oncoming van fall into a ditch, followed by the car behind me doing exactly the same – not nice.
3. The mud, leaves, and standing water
Similar to ice – mud and leaves can cause you to lose traction on the road when you need it most. Mix it in with standing water, and it can become especially slippery, so take extra care when driving in these conditions.
Beware of slow-moving vehicles, notably larger tractors. Most of the time, they will pull into a spot to let you pass, but if you feel the need to overtake, make sure you can see way, way ahead and signal correctly.
It’s also worth noting on a single lane road; you may find yourself having to reverse back the way you came, or into passing points when presented with a larger vehicle.
Foxes, deer, sheep, and cattle can all run out onto the road; even birds have a habit of flying out in front of cars. Although I’ve never seen it locally down here in the south, you could also come across a whole herd of livestock on the road!
It’s also important to remember that controlled horses could be around any corner, and they can’t swerve out the way as vehicles can. Take your time when driving along country roads; it is better to be late than to not turn up at all!
6. Other road users
Be cautious of other road users! Some may be travelling too fast, without their lights on, or may be lost. So beware on blind bends and be patient with those moving slower.
Also, watch out for cyclists as they often stick out into the road to avoid dips and potholes, and walkers usually walk two abreast or more when in groups. They should all be wearing clothing to make them visible in the dark, but many don’t – so be extra vigilant!
What does the future hold?
Cars, notably Audi, BMW, Mercedes and also Rolls-Royce (if you’re planning on getting one of those), are now being fitted with the option of Night Vision. Using the digital dash or infotainment screen, you will be able to see a front-facing camera to spot any potential hazards!
On average, three people die each day on country roads*! That’s nearly ten times higher than on motorways! If we all slowed down when we need to and anticipated the road ahead – then country lanes would be a much safer place to drive.
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