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How to stay safe while driving at night

Published on: 25 November 2015

Hijack theft risk

It's holiday season, and you may be going out more during the evening than you usually do! However, it’s important to remember that driving at night can be more dangerous than during the day.

Here are some tips that you may have heard before, but it’s always good to be reminded to stay alert and keep safe:

  • Always be alert, and be on the lookout for suspicious activity.
  • Always keep your doors locked and your windows closed, especially when you are nearing places that you will need to stop or slow down.
  • Never leave any valuables on display – rather keep these in the boot of your car.
  • When approaching a traffic light, leave enough room between you and the car in front of you. This will prevent you from being boxed in case you need to make a quick exit.
  • Parking areas of shopping malls and office parks can be a haven for criminals. Park in well-lit or busy areas. Before leaving any building, ensure that you have your car keys in your hand for easy access. Do not use your cellphone while you walk to the car, or once you’re in the parked car, as this will distract you from your surroundings, making you a target of criminals.
  • Criminals are very creative when it comes to getting vehicles to stop. Be vigilant, so if you suspect foul play or deliberate obstructions, turn around and look for an alternative route.
  • If, one evening, you get a flat tyre, try to drive (slowly and carefully!) to a safer place like a petrol station - rather than changing it by the side of the road. We list the things you need in your emergency tyre-changing kit here. Remember that MiWay provides road side assistance to car insurance policyholders with comprehensive cover.

Apart from criminal activities, drivers need to keep in mind the added danger of other hazards on the road.

According to Arrive Alive, fewer accidents occur on the roads after dark, due to the reduction of traffic flow. This, however, does not mean you should take it easy, as the proportion of fatal accidents increase at night.

The most common factors associated with night-time accidents include impaired and reduced visibility, depth perception, fatigue and intoxication.

To keep you and your loved ones safe, here are preventative measures you can take to reduce the risks that come with driving at night:

  • Ensure that the car is fit for driving at night. This means clean and working lights, indicators and windows. To reduce the chances of a breakdown, make sure that your car is serviced and maintained.
  • If you have to drive at night, focus your vision slightly to the side of the road. Peripheral vision is less affected by poor light conditions. The same applies to glare from oncoming traffic.
  • When driving, increase gaps between yourself and the vehicle in front. Also decrease your speed, as this gives you time and space to avoid any hazards.
  • Watch out for animals, especially on rural roads. Don't expect the animals to scatter and run away as you approach.
  • Be aware of other drivers – remember that at night the likelihood of someone else doing something to endanger you is greatly increased. People are often more likely to be drunk in the evenings.

The main thing is to remain alert to your surroundings and to allow yourself enough reaction time to respond to emergency situations – therefore, stick to the speed limits, even if there are no other cars on the road.