Motoring

How safe is driving at night?

If driving during the day on South African roads is hazardous, driving at night is decidedly not for the faint-hearted.

Our roads pose dangers, but accidents can be avoided through vigilance and preparation.

Dewald Ranft, chairperson of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), states that our vision declines in low-light driving, and fatal accidents often occur between 16:00 and 22:00.

“Statistics have shown that the most common cause of road accidents in South Africa is reckless driving. This includes speeding, driving under the influence, and distracted driving,” says Ranft.

A safety check before driving in the dark includes ensuring that headlights, taillights, and indicator lights are functioning and clean. Headlights should be correctly set to avoid blinding oncoming drivers.

“Safe driving at night starts with good visibility. The driver should have good eyesight, confirmed by regular visits to an optometrist, and use anti-glare glasses if necessary to improve night vision. Additionally, all the lights on your vehicle must be in proper working order.

“Note that the human eye naturally adjusts to darkness, but it can take up to 30 minutes for your eyes to adapt fully. Drivers should reduce speed during this transitional time.”

Dewald Ranft.

MIWA provides six more night driving safety tips:

  • Ensure your windscreen, rear window, side mirrors, and rear-view mirrors are clean.
  • Obey the rules of the road at all times and be a courteous and patient driver. Turn your headlights on at dusk and keep them on until an hour after sunrise. Do not tailgate the driver in front of you.
  • Dim your dashboard lights if streetlights are bright and don’t use any other lights inside the car.
  • If you are towing, ensure your brake lights and indicators are properly connected and working before leaving.
  • Reduce your speed. Reaction times are slower. Slow down to avoid head-on collisions. You must be able to stop at all times, within the length of the road illuminated by your headlights.
  • Don’t drive when tired. Exhaustion severely affects focus and reaction time.

“Apart from bad driver behaviour, we also have challenges like potholes, lack of road markings and road signs, and even livestock roaming the busy roads. These add to the stress of nighttime driving,” Ranft concludes.

Source: Cathy Findley PR

 

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