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Driving when the clocks go back

Published: 19/11/15

It's a fact that when the clocks go back and the nights draw in that vehicle accidents increase. QBE Insurance tells us that in 2012 there was an increase in the casualty rate per billion miles driven from 664 in September, to 692 in November.

Visibility is a key issue as the clocks change, caused by the seasonally lower sun, but also Halloween, Bonfire night and then Christmas activities mean that children are still playing outside in the evenings.

So as the light changes and the weather gets colder, drivers need to understand the additional risks, be responsible and take extra precautions.

Actions to consider

A key issue at this time of year is vehicle maintenance. The sad fact is that still many drivers do not undertake enough checks on the condition of their vehicle. Actions for drivers include:

  • Checking your vehicle is serviced and well maintained
  • Check anti-freeze levels are adequate
  • Check tyre tread depths are legal and that tyres are adequately inflated
  • Check that all lights are working and that light lenses and windows are clean.

Driving in darker conditions appears to result in more vehicle breakdowns. If your vehicle does break down, find a safe and well-lit place to stop. Leave your hazard warning lights on and find a safe place to stand away from the vehicle to wait for help.

Driving in twilight, the period between sunset and dusk, is difficult because your eyes have to constantly adapt to the reducing light levels. This is when drivers can realise they have an issue with their eyesight as they struggle to see traffic signs and suffer with glare from oncoming vehicle lights. An eyesight check at this time of year is a good idea.

Other points to remember

  • Check the expected weather conditions before you drive.
  • Try not to focus on on-coming vehicle high beams and keep your eyes moving.• Dim your dashboard lights and refrain from leaving your map reading light on.
  • Wipe your windscreen with newspaper to remove greasy residues and ensure it is clean. Make sure your exterior mirrors are clean too.
  • Adapt your driving, slow down and leave more space between you and the vehicle in front.
  • Make sure you can be seen; turn your beams on in good time. Watch out for cyclists and other vulnerable road users and take extra care by schools and colleges.
  • Take more breaks when you’re on a longer journey.
  • Remember that there may be many drivers who passed their test in the summer who may have very limited experience of night driving and who may not have made their commute to work in the dark yet.

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