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Is driving at night safer

Driving at night has got a bad reputation over the years – but is it as dangerous as we think? We take a look at the risks and statistics to find out…

The risks

Driving at night carries its own, unique risks, hence why it is often considered less safe. Here are just a few of the increased risks of driving at night:

  • Reduced vision: Driving at night is particularly hard as seeing things can prove, er, tricky! Of course that’s why we have headlights, reflective jackets and so on, but it doesn’t replicate the clarity that day time driving offers.
  • Harder to judge speed and distance: Objects and hazards can appear closer or travelling faster than first expected.
  • Driving under the influence: Driving under the influence increases during the night, so whilst you might be doing everything right, you still cannot control the actions of others. Of course this is true at any time of the day, but there is an increased risk of such behaviour at night.

The statistics

So there are more risks involved when you get behind the wheel – but what does that mean in practical terms?

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), 40% of all road collisions occur at night. Sure it’s less than half, but less impressive when you consider night time traffic is roughly half of day time traffic in volume.

A study at Cardiff University found that spending three continual hours behind the wheel at night time is comparable to having a few drinks. So shocked they were by their findings, they called for a ban on anything over 2 hours of continual driving at night. They say it would save 200 lives and stop 1,700 injuries annually. And considering that falling asleep at the wheel currently accounts for around 20% of serious accidents on the motorways, perhaps it’s not a bad idea!

A paper looking at ‘Road traffic casualties’ was particularly damning: “A disproportionate number of fatal injuries occur after dark.” In the EU, 40,000 die annually from road crashes; it is the leading cause of death for those aged under 40 in developed countries. In the UK there are around 3,600 deaths and 230,000 injuries. That works out at about 60 deaths per million people.

Our opinion

In this case, the statistics speak for themselves - night time driving comes with increased risks. Make sure you stay safe and follow these tips for safe driving at night:

  • Aim your headlights: Overtime they will move, so spend a few minutes putting them back in the correct position. Check out this video of how to do it properly.
  • Clean your windscreen: We’ve already established that driving at night affects vision, so make things as easy as possible for yourself by keeping your windscreen clear.
  • Focus on the line: Oncoming traffic can cause even the best of drivers to go a bit ‘rabbit in headlights’, so try your best to ignore them and instead focus on the line.
  • Take a break: Feeling tired? Don’t plough on, the statistics show this is when things can get hairy. Instead pull over, take a break and don’t hit the road again until you are feeling suitably rested. The motorway ‘Take a break’ signs are there for a reason!

published: 12/06/2015 09:16:45

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