October 2020

Tips: Driving in the dark

According to studies from Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, when the clocks go back at the end of October there is a spike in the number of deaths on the roads.

The deteriorating light conditions, icier roads, dirtier windscreens and human nature seem to have an impact on risk for some road users.

Here are 5 things you can do to switch your brain over to safe, as we drive into the challenges of the Autumn.

1) Check your lights

It’s illegal to drive on public roads without fully functioning front and rear headlights, as well as brake, reverse and indicator lights.

Now is a good time to check all your lights are operating correctly, and replace any bulbs that have blown.

2) Plan extra time to demist your windscreen

We’ve all seen those cars coming towards us with a tiny clear space at the bottom of a misted up windscreen, and the driver contorted over the steering wheel peering out of it. Don’t be that person!

Take an extra 3-5 minutes before you set off to ensure your screen is completely clear.

Top tip: start your heater off on the cold setting and gradually increase the temperature. This prevents too much damp air being pumped into the cabin, which is what condenses on the windscreen and actually contributes to it misting up!

Weird Tip: Try cleaning the inside of your windscreen with shaving foam. Place a squirt of it on a clean towel and wipe it all over the screen, then wipe it off again with another clean towel. It’s a technique that some ice hockey players use to keep their masks from steaming up.

Although it doesn’t keep working forever, if it saves you a few minutes each morning it could be worth adding in to your weekend rituals.

3) Pay attention!

Driving in low light conditions or dark takes more mental effort than on bright sunny afternoons. Peripheral vision is reduced, depth perception is compromised and it’s harder to distinguish colours.

All of this makes it more tiring and increases the chances of making a mistake.

It also increases the chances of other motorists making mistakes, which is why we really need to be paying extra attention.

4) Lower the dashboard light

Despite what your parents may have told you, it’s not actually illegal to drive with the interior lights on (ssshhhh… don’t tell your kids that!). It is however far more distracting, as it makes it harder to see outside when it’s dark.

The same is true for the dashboard lights, and so find the setting to turn down the intensity if it’s possible to do so. You may find that this increases the contrast between the inside of the cabin and outside on the road, which makes it easier to spot hazards and concentrate properly.

5) Watch out for non-vehicular road users

It’s not just drivers who are at greater risk of accidents when road and light conditions change. Pedestrians, animals and cyclists are also much more vulnerable and we need to be extra vigilant for them too.

Although cyclists should be wearing high visibility clothing and lighting… but they won’t always. Children should be paying attention when they’re trudging towards or skipping home from school… but they won’t always. Animals should stick to their fields and forests, or at least wait for a gap in the traffic before trying to cross a busy road… but they won’t always.

All all times - but especially when now as we start to get used to the new road conditions - we need to expect the unexpected.

If your car isn’t due an MOT or service just yet, but you still want to have the peace of mind that it’s fully road-worthy and winter-ready, drop us a line and we can arrange a complimentary Winter Health Check.