How to drive at night: top 5 tips

Lesson Type
Last updated: 15 Nov 2019

Driving in the dark presents a whole host of new challenges. Driving at night is something which most learner drivers will get a bit of experience of in their driving lessons, but it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for taking to the road at night, that you know how to adapt your driving style and that you stay safe on the road.

Learning to drive at night

The amount of experience you’ll have of driving at night very much depends upon what time of year you take your driving lessons and when you do your private practice sessions. Those who start learning to drive in the winter months, for example, may have more experience of driving in the dark thanks to shorter days and less hours of sunlight. In one sense, this provides really beneficial experience, but it can also create more challenges. When driving at night, you’ll need to use the skills you’ve learnt in your driving lessons whilst adapting your driving style to the conditions.

Using your lights

When driving at night, switching your lights on should become part of your cockpit drill. You will need to use your dipped headlights whilst driving in the dark and your full beam headlights to light up the road ahead when there’s no oncoming traffic.

It’s essential that you remember to turn your full beam lights off when you see an oncoming car or when you’re following behind a car. Forgetting to do so could dazzle other road users and could cause an accident.

Learning how to control your headlights is something which your driving instructor will take you through on one of your first driving lessons.

Appropriate speeds for driving at night

Finding an appropriate speed for the road that you’re driving on depends on what kind of road it is and what the conditions are like at the time. When driving in the dark, your visibility will be reduced and you won’t be able to anticipate what is coming up on the road ahead.

Make sure you keep to an appropriate speed for the conditions, remembering you’ll need to be able stop in enough time, should you need to.

Anticipating hazards

Driving at night brings new challenges in the form of a whole host of new hazards. The kind of hazards you’re likely to come across depends upon the kind of road that you’re driving on. When driving on country roads, for example, an animal could run across the road, or you might not spot a parked car in the distance.

When driving on rural roads at night, it’s unlikely that the road will be lit by street lights. You will, therefore, need to be extra vigilant whilst driving to ensure you’re able to anticipate and react to hazards.

Read our article on rural roads for more information on driving on country roads at night.

Driving in urban areas at night is generally less daunting. Roads are usually well lit by streets lights and speed limits are lower. You should remember, however, that visibility will still be reduced, so you need to ensure that you remain alert and aware of what’s going on around you. Look out for pedestrians when driving in towns and cities at night time, as they can be difficult to spot, especially when wearing dark clothing.

Night driving lessons

It’s not always easy to get experience of driving in the dark when you’re learning to drive, so it might be worth booking a few night lessons with your driving instructor. Many driving instructors offer night lessons to help their learners get to grips with the challenges of learning to drive at night.

Taking a Pass Plus course after you pass your driving test is also a great way to get used to driving at night.

You can find driving instructors near you who offer night lessons and Pass Plus courses by viewing our driving instructors’ profiles.