Night traffic on busy road
Back to Tips and Guides

Our guide to driving in the dark

When driving at night it’s important that you take extra care, as driving in the dark is more dangerous than driving in the daylight. In fact, 40%[1] of all collisions happen in the hours of darkness. 

If you’re driving at a time when you’d usually be asleep then you’re at elevated risk of falling asleep at the wheel. 20%[2] of serious accidents on motorways and monotonous roads are caused by drivers doing exactly that. 

In this guide we share our driving in the dark safety tips, so that you can reduce your chances of having an accident. 

Plan ahead

Think about the journey you have in front of you. Make sure you’re well rested and try to avoid driving at times when you’d usually be asleep. If it’s a long journey, why not share the driving? You must make sure that all drivers are insured to drive your vehicle, so check their driving insurance policies cover them. If it doesn’t, you could ask your insurer if you can add them to your policy as a temporary driver. 

Decide where you’ll be taking your breaks before you set off and be prepared to add in extra breaks, if you feel you need them, once you hit the road. 

It’s recommended you stop every two hours. If you feel tired, you should pull over into a safe place as soon as possible. Drink a strong coffee and stretch your legs. If you feel unable to carry on, find somewhere safe to sleep. There are plenty of hotels on major roads and at motorway service stations. 

Consider other options

If you don’t feel confident about driving at night, don’t do it. Change your plans so that you can drive in the daylight or perhaps get a coach, train or flight instead. 

Check your car is roadworthy

Make sure you have enough fuel and oil, and that your tyres are pumped up to the right pressure. All of your lights need to be working and clean. You should clean your windows and mirrors, too. 

Adjust the way you drive

You can drive slower than the speed limit if your vision is impaired. You want to have adequate time to react to any hazards, so don’t feel like you have to drive at the same speed you’d drive in the daylight. Try to maintain a constant speed; avoid speeding up and slowing down, as this could confuse any drivers behind you. 

When driving down a road with dimmed streetlights, or streetlights that have been turned off, you might want to put your lights on full beam, just make sure you don’t dazzle any drivers coming towards you. 

The Institute of Advanced Motorists recommend that you turn your headlights on before sunset and keep them on for an hour after sunrise, as this helps other drivers see you in twilight. 

Look out for any cyclists and pedestrians, especially near pubs and clubs. Someone could step into the road and you’d have to be able to react fast. Likewise, you never know if there is a drunk driver or a driver under the influence of drugs on the road, so give everyone plenty of space. 

Is your vision suited for driving at night?

Older drivers will naturally find driving at night more difficult because their eyes are more likely to struggle to adjust. They may also find picking out colours harder. 

You should never wear dark or tinted glasses when driving at night. Keep your interior lights off too. 

The roads are quieter when driving at night, but make sure you stay focused at all times. Don’t let your passengers distract you and definitely don’t use a mobile phone. Make your safety your priority.