Driving is statistically the most dangerous activity undertaken at work and driving during hours of darkness carries its own specific risks. With the clocks changing, Specsavers Corporate Eyecare is providing employers and their employees with guidance on driving at night.
The Health and Safety Authority makes it clear that the employer has a responsibility towards any employee who drives in the course of their work. It is advisable, therefore, for employers to establish a Safe Driving policy and to ensure this includes specific information on driving at night.
Abby Pringle, corporate sales and account adviser for Specsavers Corporate Eyecare in the Republic of Ireland, says: ‘Basic considerations, like planning a journey and checking the route beforehand, can improve a driver’s safety. Simply trying to time meetings for earlier in the day to avoid driving after dark, will have a positive influence. Adequate eyesight and regular eyecare are of course prerequisites for all drivers but it is amazing how often this aspect is neglected.’
Night-driving considerations include:
See and be seen - Headlights not only enable the driver to see to drive at night, but also allow other road users to see you. If in doubt, put your lights on. Do not wait for it to get dark, or for the streetlights to come on. If the light levels fall at any time, be it dusk or due to dark rain clouds, turn on your headlights.
Reflections - Turn off interior lights and, if possible, dim the dashboard lights. This will help to reduce any reflections that can draw the eye and cause a distraction.
Glare - Individual light sources are more intense at night. Try not to stare at oncoming lights. If you are having difficulty seeing, pull over and stop. If the glare from headlights is a significant or increasing problem, visit your optician for a thorough eye examination, as this is sometimes an indication of cataracts or other medical conditions.
Glasses – Lenses with an anti-reflective coating are the best option at night for anyone who requires glasses to drive. This helps to reduce glare by minimising the reflections within the lenses.
Eyecare – Ensuring you have adequate eyesight, or the right prescription lenses to correct poor eyesight, is essential for driving. Regular eyecare and vision tests are vital as eyesight can deteriorate gradually, which may mean the individual is unaware that their vision is impaired. It is recommended that eye tests should be carried out every two years for most people and annually for anyone over 60.
Rural roads - Drive at a speed that would enable you to stop within the distance of your headlights. As a very rough estimate, the average set of headlights will enable approximately 30 metres of visibility on the dipped setting. The stopping distance for a car travelling at 64km/h is 36 metres. Making a speed of 64km/h too fast, using dipped beams, on most rural roads.
Urban roads – Use dipped headlights in built-up areas where street lighting is provided. Do not be afraid to travel well below the speed limit for the road if the area is busy or badly lit.
Full beam - To avoid dazzling, headlights should be dipped when another road user is approaching.
Maintenance - Basic car maintenance can help with vision at night. Clean your headlights and windscreen regularly, keep windscreen washer topped up and keep a set of spare light bulbs in your car.
Tiredness - The biggest danger when driving at night is tiredness. Do not ignore the signs. Stop as soon as possible and take a break. Ultimately, if you feel tired, find somewhere safe to stop overnight.
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