If you are at a night-time function and are about to go home, you can just hop in the car and leave, right? Not quite. Night driving in South Africa presents many challenges that requires more effort to stay safe than what you might exert during the day.
The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says every driver should develop their own strategy for safe and competent night driving. “This strategy should include a plan about how to ensure your physical safety, how to ensure there are no impairments to your vision and how to avoid a run in with dangerous drivers.”
While you can be hijacked anywhere anytime, statistics reveal that dawn, dusk and after dark are the highest risk periods. “Hijackings peak between 04:00 and 08:00 and again between 16:00 and 20:00. Drivers should put extra effort into anticipating traffic light changes and to their surroundings when arriving home. This, however, doesn’t justify disobeying road rules. No one is permitted to skip a red light, irrespective of who you are or the time of day.”
Additionally, be sure there are no impairments to your vision, especially as visibility is reduced. “This includes going for an annual eye test to ensure there are no problems that need rectification. Even with 20/20 vision, certain techniques can better equip you for night driving. The glare from lights on bright will blind anyone, yet, flashing the oncoming driver is not the safest reaction. Educate yourself on night driving to improve your skills.”
Another point in your night driving strategy should be the increased likelihood of encountering reckless drivers. “Nights are when you are the most likely to encounter drunk or fatigued drivers, those avoiding the law or drivers willing to take more risks.
“For this reason, you need to pay careful attention to your surroundings on the road. Never cross an intersection, even if it is your right of way, until you are 100% sure oncoming cars are stopping. If you spot someone driving erratically, get some space between them and yourselves. Never take risks yourself by driving recklessly.”
Driving at night is more complex than during the day. “All the daytime rules apply but the reduced visibility requires even more awareness and preparedness. MasterDrive has developed a night driving MasterClass that can help drivers prepare for the challenges they are likely to encounter and ensure they are proactive rather than reactive to these,” says Herbert.