How to improve visibility for night-time driving

Do you get nervous when you’re driving at night? These simple tips can help you to increase your visibility at night and make driving less stressful.

View from a car driving in the city at dusk. The sky is dark and there are blurred lights along the roadside.

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Do you ever get nervous when you’re behind the wheel at night? If so, you’re not alone – some people even avoid driving at night altogether because they worry about reduced visibility.

Improving your visibility can be as simple as making a few basic changes – here are some suggestions for making driving in the dark safer. 

Wearing glasses or contact lenses  

This first tip might sound like common sense, but if you have to wear glasses or contact lenses for driving, it’s absolutely vital to make sure you’re wearing the correct eyewear for driving at night.

Wearing glasses with an anti-reflective coating can reduce glare from headlights and street lights, allowing you to focus on the road ahead without distraction. 

If you wear contacts, make sure to wear your contact lenses every time you drive. Contacts designed specifically for night-time driving can make you feel more confident when you get behind the wheel at night. 

Cleaning the headlights of a car with a spray and cloth

Check your car lights

The lights on your car play an essential role in keeping you visible when driving at night, and it’s illegal to drive at night without working front and rear lights on your car. So it’s vital to ensure your car’s lights are all working before you set off at night.

Check all of your exterior lights regularly, including your headlights, brake lights and fog lights. You should replace any faulty bulbs as soon as possible, so it’s a good idea to have some spare bulbs ready for when you need them. If you don’t feel confident about changing the bulbs, take your car to the garage promptly to avoid being stopped by the police.

Your headlights can also get covered with mud and spray from the roads, which can reduce their effectiveness. If you don’t have time to clean your car completely, give your headlights a wipe over to keep them shining brightly.

You should also check your interior lights regularly so that you can see all of the controls clearly, even in total darkness.

Use your lights appropriately

It’s also essential to ensure you are using your lights appropriately. If you don’t have daylight running lights, you should use dipped headlights from an hour before sunset until about an hour after sunrise. 

If you are driving on unlit roads, you can use full-beam lights to help you to see the road ahead more clearly. But when you see a car coming in the other way, be sure to switch straight back to dipped lights to avoid dazzling the oncoming driver.

Glowing red tail-lights on a queue of cars on the road at night-time

Keep your windows clean 

Clean windows are another essential factor in improving visibility for night-time driving. Keeping your windshield free from dirt and grease will avoid glare from oncoming vehicles and reduce distraction. 

You should make sure to clean both the inside and outside of your windows regularly with appropriate cleaning products to keep them clear and streak-free. And be sure to top up your windscreen washer reservoir regularly, especially before a long-distance journey at night.

Don’t stare at oncoming traffic

Looking directly at the headlights of oncoming traffic is a surefire way to get dazzled. The glare from the bright lights can make it difficult to see and even cause you to panic or lose your bearings. 

It’s better to follow the white line that marks the left-hand edge of the road if possible. This will let you keep track of your position on the road without getting dazzled by oncoming lights.

Avoid eye fatigue 

Keeping your eyes on the road is essential, but if you drive for too long, you may find that your eyes start to get fatigued. That’s one of the reasons why experts recommend taking regular breaks during long-distance journeys. You should rest at least every couple of hours or sooner if you experience any symptoms of eye fatigue, like blurred vision. 

If you can’t find a safe place to pull over, keeping your eyes moving by glancing at road signs and number plates will help to refresh your eyes without taking your focus off the road.

Don’t drive when you are tired

And on the same note, you shouldn’t drive if you are tired. Drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving, and 10-20% of all crashes are estimated to be caused by driver fatigue.

The dark conditions of night-time journeys can cause you to become drowsy, reducing your alertness on the road. This can be a particular problem on motorways and dual carriageways because of the monotony of driving on these roads, so taking regular breaks is vital for safe driving.

Driving at night can be more dangerous than daytime driving, but using these simple tips and proper judgement can help to keep you safe on the road.