More than 100,000 learner drivers a year are missing out on vital knowledge by sitting their test without ever having practised in the dark.
Figures released by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) show that, despite the added challenges presented by driving in the dark, just under a fifth (17.5%) of candidates in 2018-19 had no experience of driving at night before taking their test. A further 22% said they had driven in the dark for less than two hours before taking their test.
Young drivers are the most likely motorists to be involved in an accident and road casualty data shows that more than a third (35%) of all accidents involving young drivers happen at night.
Driving in the dark is not a compulsory part of learning to drive in the UK but the DVSA is urging learners to seek out experience in order to improve their knowledge.
DVSA chief driving examiner, Mark Winn, said: “It’s essential that all learners gain experience of driving in the dark, whether with their driving instructor or through private practice.
“Spotting hazards in reduced visibility is a skill built on experience. The more time a learner spends practising in different conditions, the better prepared they will be for driving safely on their own.”
The biggest challenge of driving in the dark is the reduced visibility. Not being able to see as far ahead of you means hazards can be harder to identify and distances can be harder to judge. Driving at night also requires learners to get to grips with additional skills, including the correct use of full and dipped beam headlights.
DVSA’s top tips for driving in the dark:
- Watch your speed.
- You can’t see as far ahead when driving at night.
- Hazards and vulnerable road users may be harder to spot.
- Make sure you can stop well within the distance you can see to be clear.
- Only overtake if you can see the road will remain clear until you’ve finished overtaking.
- Keep your windscreen clean and clear.
- Use full beam on unlit roads, but dip your headlights early enough to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers.
- Driving when tired greatly increases your risk of collision.
- Do not begin a journey if you are tired.