man driving in the dark

Driving in the dark – tips on how to stay safe

Daylight saving is due to end on Sunday 25th October. This date signifies the start of the most dangerous time of year to be driving. In fact, data from RoSPA (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) shows that when the clocks go back each year, there’s a significant rise in the number of road accidents – with many killed and injured.

Whether it be for the morning commute, the school run or the weekly shop, people are forced to drive in the dark. It’s challenging for the best of drivers. So, to help protect you and other vulnerable road users, here we offer a few tips on how to prepare for your journeys and drive safely.

7 tips for driving in the dark

  1. 1. Use your lights

It’s illegal to drive at night without front and rear lights. So, before you set off, ensure they’re clean and in full working order. Your dipped headlights should be activated about one hour before sunset and they need to be kept on for at least one hour after sunrise. That way, you’ll be clearly visible to other road users. Full beam lights should also be used when driving on an unlit country road.

  1. 2. Look at the road

When driving in the dark, you should never look directly at oncoming vehicles. The glare from their headlights can be dazzling and may temporarily impair your vision. To avoid this, it’s often worth tracking your position by looking at the white link markings on the left-hand side of the road. If the glare is so bad that you can’t see, slow down or park up until you feel more comfortable.

Using headlights when driving in the dark

  1. 3. Keep the windscreen clean

Dirty windows can increase glare from other vehicles and are more prone to condensation – both of which can impede visibility and make it significantly more difficult for you to spot hazards. Before driving in the dark, you should therefore ensure all windows are clean on the inside and out.

  1. 4. Be alert

Road users – such as children, cyclists and the elderly – are particularly vulnerable at this time of year, as they can be tricky to see in the dark. You need to be super vigilant. Take extra care in residential areas, reduce your speed and look out for unexpected movements. You must be on guard at all times and have enough time to react if someone steps in front of your vehicle.

  1. 5. Increase your distance

Tailgating is dangerous at the best of times – let alone when it’s dark. What’s more, it can be difficult to judge distance in gloomy conditions. So, be sure to allow extra space between you and the vehicle in front and give yourself plenty of time to react, should a hazardous situation suddenly arise.

  1. 6. Don’t drive if you’re tired

Seasonal changes can affect your sleep and – with less light in the evening – your melatonin levels are likely to be higher. This is the hormone responsible for making us sleepy. Of course, driving whilst your sleepy is incredibly dangerous. It can be as dangerous as drink-driving! Therefore, if you’re behind the wheel and feel drowsy, always stop and take a break.

  1. 7. Get an eye test

When driving in the dark, your eyes need to adjust to the changing light levels – and many people find it difficult to see road markings and traffic signs. So-called ‘night-driving glasses’ are available, but there’s no scientific evidence to say these work. They may even reduce your visibility further. If you’re struggling, the best option is to book an eye test and get a pair of prescription glasses.

Hire car for driving in the dark

Driving our hire vehicles in the dark

Thinking about hiring a vehicle, but worried about driving it in the dark? Don’t let the time of year put you off.

All of the cars and vans for hire at PSD are well-maintained and checked regularly. Before handing over the keys, we make sure the lights are working correctly and the windows will be thoroughly cleaned. They’re all set for driving in the dark. Our team can also offer further tips on how to drive safely in tough conditions and will demonstrate how to operate the lights before you set off.

For more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can either give us a call on 0345 222 1022 or send an email to and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.