In the dark, it is not just drivers and riders who need to be a bit more careful, vulnerable road users such as pedestrians need to be aware of the dangers too.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, Richard Gladman, has put together some tips to keep road users safe.
• If you are a pedestrian walking in the dark, take notice of the state of the pavement and if possible, walk in a well-lit area. Carrying a wind-up torch will help you and a driver on the road – and it is a lot safer than using the torch on your phone
• Some rural roads do not have pavements, and although we would never suggest walking on the road in the dark, you may have set off as a pedestrian when it is light and the sun may be setting as you are walking. As a pedestrian, plan to get to your destination before it gets dark. And as a driver, remember that not all rural roads have a pavement.
• Drive every road as if you have never done it before as the road situation could be different each time. When travelling, do not take away your local knowledge of the roads, but be prepared as the information and circumstances can change from day to day.
• Reduce your speed, understand the limit of your vision and plan ahead. The limit of your vision at night is often the limit of your headlight beam which is where you must be able to stop.
• If you are travelling through a rural area at night, it is possible for a herd of deer to cross the road, so those signs warning of wild animals previously passed will suddenly make sense. Take a look at our tips to help prevent any deer-related collisions.
• Wear the right driving gear. This may sound obvious but you will be surprised at the number of people who do not. The right footwear is crucial, and make sure your clothes are comfortable to drive in.
“It will soon be that time of the year where our daily commute is all done in the dark," Gladman says, "so remember your headlights will be your lifeline so keep them clean and make sure they are working properly. It is amazing how different a road looks at night and the focus of your attention in daylight blends into the background in the dark. Take extra care and allow extra space and time in areas where vulnerable road users are likely.”
Interestingly, with the clocks having gone back, there is speculation this practice could be scrapped next year, with a switch to a daylight saving system. The main argument is of course road safety, and the safety of children, as road users in particular.