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We hope these tips are helpful to you. They are intended as general guidance for driving in the UK, and they do not amount to legal advice. We encourage you to view the Highway Code for the latest detailed rules and guidance. There are lots of other sources where you can find more advice too, including the websites of reputable breakdown services.

Whether you’re an experienced driver or new to the road, driving at night can be nerve-wracking. It can sometimes be unenjoyable and can cause anxiety for certain drivers, but it can be dangerous too. 

The darkness reduces your vision, as well as your ability to see colours clearly - which ultimately could result in an accident on the road. It can especially decrease your vision if you’re driving on country roads, which don’t tend to have many streetlights. Not only that, but driving at late hours can cause drivers to be more tired - which again can be dangerous as your awareness is reduced.

That’s why it’s vital to follow important advice for when you’re driving at night, and to be as best prepared as you can be.

How to see better when driving at night

As it gets darker, naturally your vision starts to become more impaired. This can especially happen when you’re driving, with other factors which can further reduce your sight, such as headlights from oncoming traffic. The light from the headlights can cause glare which could dazzle you and will make it difficult to see clearly.  

To try and avoid being dazzled, don’t look directly at the headlights coming towards you, instead try to keep track of the white line marking the lane – this will help you keep on course. 

Many drivers can often forget the benefits of simply keeping your car windshield clean. You’ll be able to see much better with a clear windshield - especially at night. Here’s what you can use to keep both the inside and outside of your windshield clean:

  • Use a cotton or microfiber cloth to clean the inside of your windshield
  • Make sure your cloths are easily accessible, e.g in the glove compartment
  • Check to see if your wipers aren’t broken and are in good condition
  • If your windshield is dirty on the outside, remember to use your windscreen washer to clean it

Using your full beam headlights when driving

Using your full beam (also known as high beam) lights whilst driving in the dark will give you better width and depth of vision. But it’s important to know that you should only use them when your vision is severely reduced and there’s no oncoming traffic. This is because, if a car is driving towards you whilst you have your full beam lights on, it can dazzle the driver and could cause a serious accident. 

The best way to avoid dazzling other drivers is to turn your full beams off as soon as you see the glow of another car approaching. Once the car has gone and there’s no on-coming vehicles, it’s safe to turn them back on again.

Car essentials for driving at night

It’s always important to have some equipment in your car that’s handy in certain circumstances and weather - such as what to bring when driving in the snow. Here are a couple of essentials to always keep in your car for when you’re driving at night:

  • A torch
  • A blanket or warm clothing
  • A phone charger/portable charger

Remember, it’s also always good to bring a caffeinated drink in case you’re feeling tired, or to stop and take a break at your nearest service station.

Be extra careful when driving in the dark

It’s always important to be aware of what's happening around you whilst driving, but you need to be extra careful and vigilant at night. This is because your vision may become less clear as it gets darker, and you might be more tired than usual if you’re driving later. 

Keep an eye out for things in the road that might be less visible at night time. For example cyclists can be easy to miss if you’re not keeping a careful look out around you - especially if they’re not wearing any reflective gear. Pedestrians crossing the road in front of you can also sometimes be difficult to spot in the dark.

It’s also important to keep an eye out for animals on the road whilst driving at night. This is more of a risk if you’re driving in the countryside where animals are more likely to be near roads and there are less street lights. However, it’s good to be extra cautious anyway as you’re less likely to see them due to the darkness.

How to stay awake whilst driving at night

Regardless of whether you had a good night sleep the night before, it’s common that you’ll still feel tired when driving at night. It can make you a danger to yourself and others around you if you feel tired and don’t do anything about it. The first thing you should do if you start to feel drowsy, is to stop and take a break at your nearest service station. 

If you’re on a long journey and using the motorway, you should always make sure you schedule in some rest stops when you can have a caffeinated drink, such as a coffee, to help you stay awake and alert.