The straightforward guide to driving at night

Traffic lights are green on quiet street-lit town road

OK, let me ask a quick question. How many of you have driven at night? If you’re a learner driver, I wouldn’t expect a huge response. If you’re a recently qualified driver, I wouldn’t expect a huge response. If you’re an experienced driver…what are you doing here!? No, seriously, stick around – we’ve got plenty of great advice for you too.

Kept in the dark

The curious amongst you may be wondering why my expectations were so low. Can it be that the Safe Driving for Life blog, your trusted source of advice and guidance, has lost faith in learner drivers? Not a bit of it. In fact, quite the opposite. Everyone at Blog Towers knows how hard you’re working to pass the theory and practical tests. You see, when I asked whether you’d driven at night, I had a bit of insider info to guide me.

Dark times

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s super-boffins have recently published some numbers that are worth checking out. According to the stattos:

  • Every year, up to 100,000 young drivers haven’t driven at night before they take their driving test.
  • 35 percent of all car crashes involving young people happen at night

Pretty shocking stuff isn’t it? That’s a lot of people with no experience of driving at night.

A learner went a-gloaming

Of course, driving at night isn’t something that you *have* to do to pass your driving test. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ask your parents, an experienced friend or your driving instructor for some night driving practice. Dawn, dusk and dead of night all make extra demands on your hazard perception and driving skills. The more practice you get, the more confident you’ll feel.

Dark arts

At some point you’re going to need (or want!) to drive at night. So, let us ease you in gently with this run-down of essential night driving tips.

  • Watch your speed - Driving fast affects your ability to drive safely, as you have less time to react to hazards. At night it’s more difficult to see and judge distances, and hazards can appear to be further away than they actually are. Never drive so fast that you can’t stop within the distance you can see to be clear.
  • Keep those windows clean - A dirty windscreen increases glare and dazzle, so make sure you check it before you set off. Give your windscreen a good clean if there’s any muck on it.
  • Check your windscreen wipers are in good condition - Unless we beat some very long-standing records, you can bet it’s going to rain in spring. Keep an eye on your windscreen wiper blades. If they’re struggling to clear water or leaving streaks across the windscreen, they probably need changing.
  • Get those lights on - Headlights are an essential part of your ability to see and be seen, so don’t be afraid to put them on at dusk and dawn. This is especially true if your vehicle isn’t a very bright colour., Dark colours are less easy to distinguish in the half-light.
  • Watch out for pedestrians - Some street lights cause patches of shadow, which makes it tricky to see pedestrians.  his is particularly true of pedestrians who aren’t wearing reflective clothing (and that’ll be most of them).
  • Look out for cyclists - Cyclists don’t always wear reflective clothing, and some may even be cycling without lights. They can also behave unpredictably – perhaps by swerving to avoid a bad patch of road or because they’ve been affected by the weather. For more information about drivers and cyclists, have a look at this post or visit StayBright for a great explanation of how drivers see cyclists on their way to school.
  • Only overtake at night if you can see that the road will remain clear until after you’ve finished overtaking - This rule applies any time you overtake, but it’s especially important when it’s dark. Don’t overtake if you’re approaching
  1. a road junction
  2. a bend
  3. a hidden dip in the road
  4. the brow of hill or a hump bridge
  5. a pedestrian crossing
  6. solid double white lines along the centre of the road.
  • Dip your headlights in good time - If you’re driving along on main beam, don’t forget to dip your lights when you meet another vehicle, to avoid dazzling the approaching driver.
  • Dip your lights if you’re following another vehicle and when another vehicle overtakes you
  • Finally, if you’re feeling anxious or stressed about the driving at night - talk to your driving instructor. They’ll be able to give you strategies to help you cope and advise you of the best way to improve your skills and confidence.  


We hope that you found this post useful. Of course, it’s more a short story than an in-depth novel.  If you want to read more, head over to the SDFL shop and pick up copies of The Official DVSA Guide to Driving – the essential skills and The Official DVSA Guide to Better Driving.