A bright idea
With a growing number of local councils switching off streetlights after midnight to reduce energy costs, it’s more important than ever that your car’s lights are all working properly. So don’t rely on dashboard warnings to tell you a bulb has blown – physically check all your lights are in good order. Keep them clean too, because headlamps, tail lights, brake lights and fog lights are all a lot closer to the ground than your windscreen, which means they get spattered with far more road grime. So once winter closes in and gritters appear on our streets, you’ll need to check and clean all lights more frequently.
Ultimately, however brightly or poorly lit our streets are, our ability to see the road ahead depends on the state of our eyes. And many people who have good vision in daylight find their eyes aren’t so sharp once night has fallen. Low-light vision problems include night blindness, haloes and blurred vision – all caused by a variety of conditions include zinc deficiency, vitamin A deficiency, cataracts, diabetes, or even genetic disorders. So if you feel your night vision isn’t quite as good as it once was, it might be time to take an eye test.
Danger of dazzling
Car headlamps have been getting brighter over the past two decades as manufacturers have progressed from fitting traditional halogen bulbs to xenon and High Intensity Discharge LED lamps. That’s good news for the drivers of cars equipped with high-tech headlights, but it’s not so great for other road users on the receiving end of their laser-like beams. So the best way to protect yourself from headlight glare is to keep your windscreen super-clean – because even a tiny amount of grease or grime can diffuse bright light, breaking up the image of the road ahead and producing a dazzling glare. So buying an inside-and-out windscreen spray could be the smartest investment you ever make.
Driving after midnight
Research shows that almost 20% of accidents on major roads are sleep-related. And if you’re driving at a time when you’d normally be at home in bed, you’re at far greater risk of nodding off at the wheel. But drivers don’t simply fall asleep without warning – there are usually plenty of warning signs. So if you feel drowsy while driving, find a safe place to stop and take a break. Experts suggest you should drink two cups of coffee or a high-caffeine drink and rest for 15 minutes to allow the caffeine to kick in. Then head for home or any safe place to spend the night.