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Clocks go back this weekend – here’s how to drive safely in the dark

With the darker nights approaching as the clocks go back this weekend (October 31) and the commence of rutting season, the most difficult time of year to be driving has begun. Statistics from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents revealed that 40% of all collisions occur in the darkness and the road safety organization – GEM Motorists Assist – warns the coming weeks will see a significant rise in the risk of collisions with deer.

With that being said, the private number plate supplier click4reg wanted to give their expert tips on how to drive safely in the dark and during rutting season.

Driving in the dark

The experts at click4reg advise making regular checks to ensure your front and rear lights are functioning as not only is it illegal to drive without functioning lights, but extremely dangerous to drive without properly working lights.

It is important for drivers to use their lights appropriately; dipped headlights should be turned on an hour before sunset and kept on till an hour after sunrise to ensure you’re always vividly visible to other drivers.

Using your full beam correctly is another important factor, as the blinding effect of oncoming full-beam headlights is dazzling and can cause accidents. You should only utilise your full beam on unlit country roads to help you see the road layout clearly, but when you see another vehicle, you must switch back to dipped beam lights straight away.

Extra tip: Invest in some night driving classes to reduce the effect of nighttime glare.

Drowsy driving
Car accidents linked to driver fatigue are a major cause of road accidents. Making sure you are fully awake and coherent is vital as driving in the dark makes you feel more bleary eyed than usual, especially if you’re on a long journey.

The experts advise scheduling regular rest stops if you are driving longer than an hour. If your journey is short, take a snack or a drink which will keep you awake. Only go behind the wheel when you feel fully awake, as not only does feeling sleepy make you a danger to yourself and other drivers, but it can be just as dangerous as someone drink-driving.

Extra tip: Stay hydrated before and during driving long distances, it will keep you focused and alert.

Windows and mirrors
Checking the state of your car and ensuring it is clean is essential before driving at night. As a buildup of condensation can form on your inside windows, as well as dirt picking up on the outside, it’s important to take time to clean them before setting off on your journey in the dark.

Mirrors are just as important to keep clean, as dirty mirrors can comprise your vision when driving, especially at night.

Extra tip: Avoid touching your windows and mirrors and if you do, wipe it down with microfiber cloth.

Oncoming traffic
To prevent and protect yourself from being dazzled behind the wheel, it is important to never look directly at other car headlights as the glare you’ll face back can temporarily blur your vision, making it more likely for you to lose control of the wheel.

Extra tip: If the glare is affecting your vision, slow down but avoid abruptly halting as to not cause an accident between you and the car behind.

Breakdown plan
Car troubles are frustrating for anyone but experiencing a breakdown at night can be really dangerous as it makes the approaching traffic more comprised to see you and your vehicle. Ensure your hazards are on, which will make you seen and alert other drivers, disembark your vehicle and stand behind safety barriers or a safe distance away and always carry a high vis!

Extra tip: In the unfortunate event of a breakdown at night, make your call to your breakdown recovery service first, to ensure you aren’t waiting longer, and then phone your respective partners, family and friends.

Driving during rutting season

With rutting season having commenced, motorists are always urged to take extra care and precaution when driving.

Be vigilant and alert. When driving during rutting season peak hours (most active between dusk to dawn) be aware of your surroundings and be informed of it being rutting season.
Avoid routes native to deer. It is safer to avoid wooded areas, green spaces and areas near water resources, such as lakes and ponds.
Use your vehicle’s features. If there is no oncoming traffic, use your full beams to see the road ahead and honk your horn with a long push to frighten animals away from your vehicle.
Dangerous deer. Although animals such as deer are beautiful to look at, never approach them as you could make them feel threatened and scared and more likely to react.
Dead or alive. If you accidentally hit an animal, contact the police immediately. If you come across a deer that appears to be dead, it is safer to report it to your local council, however, if the animal seems injured but alive, contact the RSPCA.