A lot of motorhome drivers don’t enjoy driving and night, and very often it’s with good reason! Driving at night is a difficult, tiring and often challenging experience and if you’re able to drive during daylight hours it’s far better. However, there are many occasions when it’s simply more convenient to drive at night, as it allows you to make better use of your holiday time, it’s very often quieter and if you have plans the next day it’s sometimes essential. So, to make your night time driving a little less stressful, here’s a quick guide to get you on your way…
Using Your Lights
Before you’ve even left the driveway you should have your lights switched on to low (or half) beam and this should be the default position for your lights. Motorhomes tend to have slightly higher ground clearance than many other vehicles and therefore full-beam headlights can very easily dazzle other drivers.
You should use your full-beam lights on country lanes or on quiet roads to aid your visibility, but you need to be vigilant about turning them down. Equally, if other drivers fail to turn their lights down you too could be dazzled, but resist the temptation to flash – it could result in a situation where you both can’t see.
Judgement and Distances
At night it becomes a lot harder to make the sort of judgement you’d make on the roads during the day; knowing your stopping distances, how far to leave from the car ahead and the gap between your vehicle and the curb all becomes more difficult. It’s wise therefore to knock a few miles per hour off your speed and just leave that extra bit of space.
At night it’s also more difficult to make those big judgement calls, for example; when to pull out at a roundabout. To some extent you can use the upcoming traffic’s headlights to determine their speed, but this is very often difficult to get right. At night it’s often better to just sit back and wait, safe in the knowledge the roads will clear eventually.
Stick to the Rules
When driving at night it can be tempting to bend the rules of the road a little. You often see drivers using mobile phones at night in the hope they won’t be caught for example. In the first place, there’s actually an increased likelihood you will be caught if you encounter police which could leave you with a fine, points on your license and a very expensive motorhome insurance quote when you come to renew.
Secondly, driving safely is even more important at night time than it is during the day. It’s that much easier to make a mistake when driving at night and using a phone or, say, going over the limit which will only put you more at risk. Even if it’s tempting, don’t take the chances – it really isn’t worth it.
Dealing with Tiredness
Even if you’re well rested and feeling good, tiredness can hit at any time when you’re driving at night. The old advice of ‘if in doubt, stop’ definitely still holds, but you should think about managing your tiredness. Coffee and energy drinks will give you a temporary boost, but you’re likely to have a sugar crash after about an hour if you over consume.
If you’re going to be driving a long shift at night you should start thinking about it during the day. Don’t spend too much time on computers or watching TV, this will strain your eyes, and perhaps increase your normal tea or coffee consumption. Caffeine can stay in your system for eight hours and this prevents the drop of tiredness you get immediately after a strong cup.
Night driving is about being sensible with risks and, in most cases, just reducing your speed and being a little more cautious. On quiet roads you are in complete control and it’s your own responsibility to keep driving safely – you won’t have other drivers to pick you up on it if you make a mistake. You should only change your daytime driving style to account for poor visibility and make sure you’re in control of your energy levels. Stopping and getting some rest is very often the best option.