Driving at Night

Friday, 9 December 2011
Car makers have some very interesting advances in technology that will help us in the future. 

A more advanced form of night vision, similar to that of the military, may soon be available to us on the road.

But until that happens we will have to contend with the fact that our vision is greatly reduced at night.

Night driving does require the eyes to work harder because they are constantly adjusting to accommodate the changing light levels. This is also the case when driving at dawn and dusk.

There is a kind of in-between light condition that occurs in the transition from day to night and vice versa. So be aware of this as it can cause you problems on the road. It will have an effect of your ability to pick up details on the road environment in front of you.  

It is easy to fall into the habit of letting your vision drop and lock onto to that point where the light from your headlights and the darkness meet.

But it’s even more vital that you scan as much as possible at night and try to take in as much as you can.  

However avoid looking directly into the lights of an oncoming vehicle. This will only dazzle you and its effects may last a few seconds before your eyes recover. You can travel quite a distance in that time especially if you are on a highway.

High beam is very beneficial when on the open road but they must be used wisely. Make sure that you dip your high beam as you approach an ongoing car. It is best to this when the oncoming car is a reasonable distance away.

You can also see the glow from the lights increasing as the gets close to a crest of a hill. This is also a good time to dip your lights before the car reaches the crest. Hopefully they will do the same.

However sometimes people forget that their high beam is on, this may often occur  on long and lonely highways with not a lot of traffic and you may be the first car the driver has encountered for a while.

So a brief flash of your high beam should alert them to dipping their lights. Just one small piece of advice at this stage, If the oncoming driver doesn’t dip their lights, don’t respond with a blast from your high beam.

I understand that avenging the discomfort this driver has imposed on you may seem like a natural thing to do, but it only makes it worse because you effectively have two oncoming drivers blinded and that isn’t wise. It like our parents taught us, “Two wrongs don’t make a right

If you are dazzled by bright lights you’ll need to back your speed off and concentrate on looking at the edge of your side of the road.

If someone is closing on you from behind and they haven’t been courtesy to dip their high beam you aren’t totally at their mercy.

You can move your internal rear view mirror to the anti glare position. In fact a significant number of modern cars have a setting that will automatically do this. You can also move the side mirrors to stop the light being aimed directly in your face.

It would also be a good idea to allow this person to pass you at the first opportunity.  

Be extra careful when overtaking at night. It can sometimes be difficult to accurately judge distance and that set of on-coming headlights may be closer than you think.

The bottom line with night driving is vary your speed to suit you level of vision. Look as far ahead as you can, increase you braking margins and be even more on guard for the unexpected.

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