Short days and long, dark nights have come around yet again and we find ourselves driving in the dark more than we’re probably used to. If you’re a new driver, or you’re learning to drive - this may be the first time you’ve had to deal with driving a car at night. If you’re worried about heading out on the roads in the dark, here are some top tips and advice for you!
Your lights are key
Knowing your car lights, how to work them, and more importantly, when to use them and at what times, is essential when you’re in a car driving at night. The majority of the time when driving at night, you’ll be using your dipped headlights but there are other lights you’ll likely use too - like your full beam headlights. We have an article all about the different external car lights which will help you learn what is what, and when you should use them.
It’s important that you check all of your car lights are working before you head off in the dark – including your indicators and brake lights! It’s also wise to carry spare bulbs around with you in the car, in case one stops working mid-journey and you need to pull over to a safe place to replace it.
What is the penalty for driving without lights at night?
Driving without proper working headlights at night is an offence, for example, if you drive with only one headlight working - the policy can pull you over and issue a Fixed Penalty Notice fine of £100. It could also be considered that driving without your headlights to risk injury to others and in that case, the fine could rise to £2,500 and could see you get 3 points on your licence. According to the Highway Code, lights, indicators, reflectors, and number plates MUST be kept clean and clear and in good working order so make sure you’re checking them regularly before setting off.
Stick to what you know
When first venturing out into the dark, it’s best to stick with routes that you know. Confidence is important when driving, so throwing yourself into an unknown place without the experience of driving at night probably isn’t the best idea! Build up confidence and head further out when you feel comfortable doing so. A great way to do this is to ask a friend or family member to accompany you on the first few trips in low light – a second set of eyes never hurt anyone!
You need to be much more aware of your surroundings when you’re driving at night. Some of the things you need to keep an eye out for are:
- Other vehicles that may not have their lights on so are harder to see
- Cyclists who may not have lights on their bikes
- Pedestrians crossing the street, they’re often not very visible
- Distracting lights, such as Christmas lights on houses can interrupt your concentration
How to avoid light glare when driving at night
Driving at night might see you struggling with light glare from things like other drivers and street lights. Night time driving can put a strain on your eyes, so it’s a good idea to get your eyes checked if you haven’t done so recently, as some people are prescribed glasses for night driving!
If your eyesight is fine but you still struggle with the lights, you might be wondering how to see better when driving at night? One thing that many people find helpful are anti glare specs for driving at night - they help reduce glare, improve image clarity and make those bright lights a bit easier to deal with.
Allow extra time
Giving yourself plenty of time before a trip in the dark is essential - the last thing you want is to be in a rush when driving in the dark. Allow extra time for your journey to take any dimly lit roads more slowly than you usually would, especially on places like country roads where hazards can be less visible.
Allowing extra time on your journey also means that should you need to take a rest (because driving at night can be tiring) then you’ll be able to without rushing to make time back. If you’re heading out on a long road trip, make the most of those service stations for a large coffee and a rest should you need it!
Anxiety driving at night
It’s more common than you’d think to have a fear of driving at night. If you struggle with driving anxiety, try to keep all journeys you do to start with small, local and during the day time, working up to being able to drive at night. There is no shame in being anxious to drive in the dark, take some practising with a friend or family member to gain confidence. We’re sure you’ll get there, and if not, that’s what friends are for right?!
Consider Pass Plus!
It’s ok if you’re not super confident behind the wheel when the night draws in, it’s all about becoming more confident in night time driving. Why not consider taking a Pass Plus course? It’s ideal for new drivers to become more confident behind the wheel. Not only does a Pass Plus cover the night time driving peril, it also covers things like driving on motorways and tackling rural toads, etc.
Can learner drivers drive at night?
All our tips above are great, but the best way to get confidence when driving at night is to get in practice, and there’s no better time to start than when you’re still learning… but can learners drive at night? Yes! Many drivers take to the roads at night time before they’ve even passed.
It may be difficult to book lessons with an instructor for when the sun goes down, especially in the summer, but getting private practice with a friend or parent supervising you is a brilliant way to practice driving in the dark.
Winter means the sun rises later and sets earlier, so it’s likely we won’t be able to avoid driving in the dark, but following these tips and making sure you’re using the correct lights will make the journey a bit smoother.