Whether you are a new driver or one with decades of experience, driving can sometimes feel automatic to us and it’s easy to forget the challenges that we encounter every time we hit the road.
Throw in the dark of night, a bit of rain, a sudden storm and slippery roads and it presents a range of adverse conditions that you need to be ready for.
As we leave Summer behind and the daytime begins to get a little shorter, here are a few reminders to consider before you turn the key (or press the start button), and when on the road.
It doesn’t matter what vehicle you drive, make sure you give it a quick look over before you exit the driveway. We don’t expect you to do some of these things every time you drive, but once a week may be enough to keep them safely in check.
Lights & Indicators
If you can’t see, that’s dangerous. If others can’t see you, that’s double dangerous. Make sure your headlights, tail lights, indicators and daytime running lights (if fitted) are all functioning correctly so you can see and others can see you, as well as your intentions at roundabouts, intersections and when changing lanes.
Glass and mirrors
Keep all glass and mirrors clean regularly. Smudge marks and dirt make it harder for you to see out the windscreen and the rear window, as well as causing glare from other road users’ headlights.
Rear View and side mirrors
Adjust these appropriately to keep the glare from headlights out of your eyes. Most vehicles have an anti-glare tab or button on the rear vision mirror that can help with night driving, so give it a try and see if you are more comfortable with this.
Dim the dash panel and other interior lights
Most vehicles allow you to brighten or dim the dash panel, infotainment screen and assortment of lights around the driver. Some will do this automatically for you. At night, all of these lights can get very bright and strain your eyes or provide a distraction from the road.
Is the spare wheel in good condition? Do you have spare fuses and globes? Carrying a torch or inspection light may be useful in situations where you need to conduct repair or swap over parts. A safety triangle is always a good idea to carry with you, in case your vehicle is stranded on the side of the road and you need to
Make sure your tyres have enough and suitable tread. Slicks are fine if you are a Formula 1 driver, but even F1 teams change to treaded tyres for the wet. The tread disperses the water, maintaining grip. Tyres without tread in the wet are an accident waiting to happen.
Do you need to go out?
This sounds like a silly question, but sometimes the errands can take a raincheck, such as a trip to the shops. If you are uncomfortable driving at night or in adverse conditions, then simply don’t. You should be confident (but not too confident!) in your driving abilities in order to be a safe driver and have your concentration where it’s needed.
Out on the Road
Obviously these need to come on for night-time driving, but consider that in conditions such as wet weather, making yourself extra visible to others by switching on your parkers or headlights can be a good idea. It is a good indication that if most on the road have their lights on, then you should too. If your lighting is inadequate despite clean headlights, you may want to consider replacing or upgrading your headlight globes to a set of performance globes.
If you are in a rural setting with no vehicles in front, use your high beams. Dim them when other cars approach. Avoid using high beams in foggy conditions, as the light can bounce off the fog, glaring and reducing visibility further. NARVA has terrific foglamps for these situations - check them out here.
They save lives and the airbags in your car depend on them to function safely in the event of an accident. As a driver, it’s up to you to ensure all your passengers are buckled up. There really is no excuse for not wearing one!
That text message can wait! If you need to communicate urgently, pull over and do it, or ask a passenger to do it for you. Remember, if you’re looking at your phone, you’re driving blind. Phone usage is a leading cause of road accidents.
Distance to the car in front
A larger gap between you and the person in front of you means more time to react when the unexpected occurs, such as another vehicle slamming on their brakes or a slippery road surface that increases the distance needed to come to a stop.
If you have a long drive ahead of you, take a few stops. A 15-minute power nap can save your life. Pull over somewhere safe, take a nap and maybe have a coffee. Take turns driving with your passenger/s – there’s no shame in having a rest!
Safe driving from the team at Ultima.