Driving long distances can be challenging at the best of times – you might face longer periods on your own, different road conditions and types of weather, and the need to concentrate on your route until you reach your destination.
But driving at night can be especially hard, as your senses need to be heightened, the conditions may be more difficult for various reasons, and the journey can seem to stretch endlessly ahead of you.
Here are some top tips for night time driving that can help to make your journey more comfortable and get you to your destination faster and more safely too.
1. Plan ahead
If you know you’re going to be driving late at night, plan ahead. Make sure you get good rest the night before, and consider giving yourself a lie-in if possible, so you’re not driving jetlagged.
Being well rested is the best way to stay alert throughout a night time drive, and you should not rely on caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee, energy drinks or caffeine pills to keep your eyes open.
2. Keep comfortable
Driving at night can be colder, especially in winter, so try to keep comfortable once the sun goes down. Long sleeves or thermal base layers are a good start, and they don’t have to be so bulky that they get in the way of reaching for the gear stick or other levers.
You can crank the heating higher but beware of getting too comfortably warm – it’s sometimes better to be slightly cooler than comfort, as this can help you to stay alert for longer.
3. Stay refreshed
You wouldn’t drive for hours on end in the daytime without snacks or drinks, but at night when you’re normally sleeping, it’s easier to lose track of just how long you’ve gone without hydrating.
Keep refreshments close at hand or be ready to stop in at a service station or other 24-hour shop and get some extra energy and fluids on board – as long as you’re not relying on them to keep you awake, this is one example of when energy drinks and isotonic sports drinks can be a good option.
4. Take breaks
Plan some breaks in advance so you know where there is somewhere to pull over. Ideally you want this to be a car park away from the road, such as a service station alongside the motorway.
If you’re driving and realise you’re more tired than you expected, look for somewhere to pull off, even if it’s just a lay-by. A short nap by the roadside can make all the difference when you’re low on energy, and can allow you to find a better place to stop for longer.
5. Stop if you need to
It’s nobody’s favourite piece of advice, but if you get too tired, know when to call it a night. Sometimes a nap will not be enough – you need to leave it until morning to continue on your way.
Pulling over when it’s the right thing to do is what makes you a good driver, and every year people are caught out because they don’t listen to that instinct – so make sure to be a safe driver, and not another statistic.