Darkness on the edge of town

ROAD safety charity the IAM is offering weekly motoring tips from Britain’s top advanced driver, Peter Rodger. This week he is advising motorists on driving in the dark on the motorway.

Rodger said: “Driving after the sun goes down offers a rather different experience to driving in daylight. Speed is more difficult to judge, distances can be hard to calculate, facing a wall of headlights can cause distraction and impaired vision, and you are likely to be more tired than usual.”

Rodger offers tips to help make your drive as safe and enjoyable as possible:

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To improve your view as far as possible, keep your lights and windscreen clean. You should clean the inside of your windscreen as well as the exterior.

Use main beam to maximise the distance which you can see ahead, but when other drivers are approaching, make sure you dip your lights to avoid dazzling the oncoming traffic.

Turn off your interior lights and dim the dashboard if possible – this will cut down on interior reflections on your windows.

Make sure you can stop safely within the distance you can see to be clear. Stopping distances should be increased during hours of darkness, and even more so if the winter weather has made the roads more slippery.

If you’re feeling tired, caffeine alone is not a fix. Take a break and have a 20 minute nap in a safe location. Opening your window to let some cool fresh air in will also help to perk you up.

Motorway driving can be monotonous, so share the driving is possible.

Look at how the traffic in front behaves for clues to possible problems you can’t see yet. You should especially stay on the lookout for brake lights up ahead.

If you break down, pull over on to the hard shoulder and stop as far to the left as you can, pointing your wheels in towards the kerb. Then leave your vehicle and stand behind a crash barrier if there is one.

Rodger said: “Currently there are several stretches of motorway in Britain which have no lighting, making the hours of darkness even more challenging for motorists. But this shouldn’t put you off driving on the motorway at night. The roads are a lot quieter, making it a suitable time to make continuous progress.”

To help drivers stay safe this winter, the IAM has launched its winter driving campaign, which includes a dedicated website, drivingadvice.org.uk, featuring traffic updates, weather forecasts and tips on how to drive safely in winter.

Tips cover rain, snow, ice, fog and wind – everything you can expect in a typically unpredictable British winter. Check it out before you travel.