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Night Driving Techniques

Banish Night Driving Fears With These Simple Techniques

Do you dislike, or fear, night driving? Do you plan your driving so you can avoid driving at night altogether? Then you’re in the right place.

Here you will gain confidence by improving your ability to see around your vehicle and into the night.

This page focuses on driving in the country at night. For tips on driving in urban areas at night, go to driving at night.

Dusk To Dawn Driving In The Country

 

Don’t Be Blinded By The Lights

The most common issue with nighttime driving in the country deals with oncoming headlights on those two-lane highways. I’m talking here about areas where there are no street lamps for ambient light.

A trick I use, especially when confronted with bright oncoming lights, is to force myself to look to the road’s right shoulder. Often it had a white or yellow line painted on the right side. This allows me to stay straight and give opposing traffic lots of space.

Remember, you tend to drive in the direction you are looking for. The reflex action is to look at oncoming lights. Train yourself to look at the right shoulder of the road.

Full Headlight System On, Please

Make sure that your full headlight system is on, not just your running lights. You may think you have your lights on because you see the light from the front of your car. Too often, it is just your ‘running lights’. On my car, the dash lights are not all on when I only have the running lights.

It also means you have no lights on the back of your car. When night driving in the country, your vehicle will not be seen, until too late, by anyone coming up behind you. Be safe. Know that your full headlight system is on.

Turn all inside lights off. When I drive in the dark countryside, I will often dim my dash lights, which improves my ability to see subtle light variations outside the car.

See In The Dark. Avoid The Deer.

Hitting deer and moose while night driving in Ontario, where I live, is a much too common occurrence. Moose, in particular, are large, heavy animals. In an accident, they might be killed, but they can destroy your car and even you in the process.

The saying ‘frozen like a deer caught in the headlights’ is not without merit. I have seen deer on the road in front of me, and once they see my headlights, they tend to freeze.

I realize that on unlit country roads, I am driving ‘beyond my headlights.’ I mean that it will take more distance to stop my car than I can ‘see’ with my headlights. This is why I have taught myself to look beyond my headlights.

I do this by scanning far ahead. I note any ambient light from the moon, approaching cars in the distance, buildings, and other light sources. Then, as I can, I look for shadows that block that ambient light background, specifically, moving clouds.

I may not know what is moving, but by watching the shadow, I can often figure it out, often before I see it in my headlights. If it is in front of me, I have a lot of time to adjust my speed accordingly.

That is why I could slow down and move around the deer that ‘froze in my headlights.’ I also noted that as soon as I moved to the side, it seemed to break their spell, and they took off in the direction opposite to the one toward which I had moved. It did not take much of a movement.