Why Is Night Driving So Dangerous?

In the UK about 25 per cent of all fatal crashes occur between 4pm and 9pm, the majority in the winter months. German road safety research has shown that while 75 per cent of all driving is done during daylight hours, more than 50 per cent of all fatal accidents happen during the hours of darkness.

Similar accident figures have been found in US studies showing that approximately 50 per cent of serious accidents are caused as a result of the driver not having enough information about the road ahead to take avoiding action.

Explaining the added dangers of night driving, Adrian Walsh, RoadSafe’s director, says, 'Ninety per cent of a driver's reaction depends on vision, and vision is severely limited at night. Even on well-lit roads, depth perception, colour recognition, and peripheral vision are compromised after sunset.'

The risk of death in the case of a crash is three times higher for night driving than for clear visibility conditions.

When a driver encounters a hazard on the road, the driver will go through five steps before stopping the vehicle:

  • Perception of the hazard, under poor visibility conditions
  • Identifying the hazard under poor lighting conditions
  • Considering the alternatives available, and deciding what action to take
  • Reaction time - mental plus muscular
  • Braking

Research has shown that a driver travelling at 40 miles per hour with dipped lights has as little as 1.5 seconds to react to a hazard on the road. This rises to a three seconds on beams.

A wet road requires even greater distances. Fifty per cent of all reported road traffic accidents at night occur in wet conditions. In the UK it is wet on average only 10 per cent of the nights.

23 October 2005 Staff

The information contained this motoring news article may have changed since publication. Product specifications, reviews and editorial may only apply to the UK market. You may wish to check with the manufacturer before making a purchasing decision. E.&.O.E. You may NOT reproduce our motoring news in full or part, in any format without our written permission. carpages.co.uk © 2018