ALL motorists have to drive at night at one time or another. Eric Sandmann from Arrive Alive offers some tips to make nocturnal trips safer. • CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE ABOUT NIGHT DRIVING, IT REALLY IS DANGEROUS Drivers don’t quite grasp how dangerous night driving is. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, road deaths occur three times more at night compared with those occurring during the day. Drivers cannot afford to be careless whenever they drive, and even more so at night. Some drivers are deceived into thinking that it’s much safer to drive at night because there’s less traffic. • LOOK AFTER YOUR EYES Eyes are the focal point of any safe driving, whether during the day or night. The worse you see as a driver, the more of a danger you are to yourself and to others on the road. Recognise the serious limitation, namely, that artificial light is not the same as natural sunlight. Some drivers suffer from night blindness (nyctalopia).To be on the safe side, go for regular visits to the optometrist, and more frequently as you become older. • THE CAR’S HEADLIGHT BEAMS ARE NOT THAT LONG SO TRAVEL SLOWER A car’s headlights light up the way only so far, and vision of what lies ahead is restricted to what the driver can see. Travelling at 120 km/h means the car covers 33 m in one second. Thus, if you take two seconds to react to an object on the road, your car will have covered more than half a full rugby field (120 m). It makes you think, doesn’t it?Travel slower, so that you have more time to respond. • TIRED AND DRUNK DRIVERS AND PEDESTRIANS SHARE THE SAME ROAD AS YOU Drivers have no way of knowing who they are sharing the road with at night. Some motorist approaching may have been driving for six hours non-stop. This is why it is advisable for drivers to be especially cautious when driving late at night. This is also the time when motorists are likely to be travelling from a party or a pub. Pedestrians walking across a freeway late at night may also pose a serious danger. Not only is it difficult for them to assess how fast a car is approaching them, but it is also difficult to spot them. • WILD OR DOMESTIC ANIMALS MAY BE ON THE ROAD Be extra cautious when driving through areas where game, cattle or dogs can be expected to be wandering on the road. Look out for pairs of moving bright dots, which are an animal’s eyes reflecting the car’s headlights. • HOW CAN WE MAKE NIGHT DRIVING SAFER? Not everything is beyond our control. Let’s apply the following tips. • IS YOUR WINDSCREEN CLEAN? The windscreen may be clean on the outside, but grease marks on the inside can distort light from oncoming cars at night. Wiping the outside and inside of a windscreen with, for instance, a newspaper, will ensure good vision. • DIM DASHBOARD LIGHTSDimming dashboard lights will improve night vision. Avoid having any other lights on inside the car while travelling. • STAY FOCUSED Don’t allow cellphones to distract you during night driving.Avoid fatigue as well as consuming alcohol when driving. What is scary is that tired drivers can fall asleep for a second or two.However, the driver can do nothing about it, even if he or she is aware of such an event. Hence, the necessity for drivers to stop regularly and sleep if necessary. • IS YOUR CARROADWORTHY? It is shocking how often you see “one-eyed” vehicles travelling at night on South African roads. Ensure that your headlight beams are aimed correctly at the road ahead and that the headlights are not dirty. All tail lights and indicator lights must be in proper working order. — Supplied.