Tips for safer night driving.
KL is an all-night kind of city. Maybe not 24 hours (not all parts, at least), but you’ll still find something to do even in the wee hours of the morning. Between late night movie screenings, 24-hour mamaks and open-till-late shopping malls, there’s no shortage of entertainment to be found after sundown.
Of course, this also means roads are never completely deserted. Traffic crawls on Federal Highway can go until midnight, especially on weekends around the time all shopping malls close.
While this is good news for any enterprising Uber and Grab drivers out there, road safety must always be the priority. Night driving is a different animal from driving in broad daylight, so drivers need to take extra precautions. We share some of the best tips for safe night driving.
- Turn on headlights. Obviously, you should turn your headlights on as soon as it gets dark. Don’t wait for full darkness to turn them on — around 7pm when the sun is setting is a good time to switch them on. Some newer car models come with automatic headlights that will switch themselves on when they sense that the surrounding lighting is insufficient, i.e. when it gets dark-ish.
Not only will your headlights increase your visibility of the road in front of you, it will also turn on your tail lights so other drivers can see you more clearly. Your dashboard will also light up so you can see all of your dials and indicators in the dark.
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And please, go easy on the headlights. Don’t use your high beams unnecessarily, as they not only disturb other drivers, but might cause an accident due to reduced visibility from glare.
- Watch out for motorbikes. Motorbikes in the daytime are already hazards to cars — even when there’s a motorcycle lane available, cars will need to be on the lookout for them when changing lanes, blending etc.
In the dark, drivers need to pay extra attention, as a motorbike with a busted taillight might be especially difficult to spot in the darkness. As with all driving, stay sharp, stay alert, and don’t speed so you can react to any unexpected motorbike appearances in time to avoid a collision.
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- Use signal. It’s late. It’s the end of the day. People are tired. Maybe their reflexes aren’t as great as they usually are. If you insist on suddenly switching lanes without signalling, the likelihood that they will be able to:1. Slam on the brakes in time, or
2. Swerve to avoid you without hitting someone in the other lane
are lowered, which increases your chances of getting into an accident. All of this could be avoided simply by practicing a little wrist movement to flick on your signal before merging, so there’s really no reason not to do it. Plus, it’s only polite.
- Watch your speed, and for pedestrians. Going really fast is okay for professional racecar drivers on a racetrack with cars built for speed, but it’s not okay on public roads in your average city car. Driving excessively fast will not only earn you a summons and fine — it can also cost someone their life, and it might not necessarily be your own.
Particularly in the city and on small town roads, night drivers need to be wary of any pedestrians that might wander into your car’s path. Watch out for drunk people, clueless tourists, unsupervised children and runaway pets — it’s really best to drive more cautiously in populated areas.
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- Please do not wear sunglasses. You can find “night vision” driving glasses on the internet that promise to help you see better when driving at night. The idea is that the yellow colored lens will filter out glare from oncoming headlights and streetlights while improving contrast.
However, the eye experts at Laramy-K Optical strongly advise against using glasses like these, as they actually impair vision by reducing the amount of light transmitted to the eye.”Yellow ‘Night Driving’ lenses have been shown to provide no benefit in seeing ability at night”, observes one study.
These yellow glasses might make your eyes feel more comfortable, but will reduce your ability to see darker portions of the road, so you might drive into a massive pothole or any other obstruction.
Laramy-K says that if headlight glare (from regular headlights, not high beams) is a real problem to you, you should get your eyes examined, as it could be an early indicator of cataracts or some other eye condition.
And obviously, regular sunglasses shouldn’t be worn while driving at night. Come on people.
Photo credit: http://kimcampion.com
- Be a retina spotter. It hasn’t been a good year for Malaysian wildlife interacting with roads. Back in June 2017, a baby elephant was killed while trying to cross a Malaysian highway. And just a few days after that, a black panther was found dead on the side of a Pahang road, killed by a passing vehicle.
Hitting an animal with your car won’t only kill the animal, it will also damage your car, besides potentially causing you to crash into other cars or surrounding objects. It’s hard to predict when animals will cross the road, but common crossing areas are indicated by yellow animal crossing signs.
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Some animals’ eyes reflect light, so you will be able to see the reflection in the darkness. If your eyesight is sharp and you’re not speeding, you should be able to slow down quickly enough to avoid a collision.
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