Night time driving. If reading those words reminded you of anxieties experienced driving after sunset, you aren’t alone. 64% of people surveyed by Holts admitted night driving caused them stress. In fact, driving at night was noted as one of the greatest anxieties experienced by motorists.
So what’s all the fuss with night driving? Reduced visibility, distractions and encounters with wildlife are a number of reasons why drivers experience an increased amount of anxiety. Combine those with rush hour traffic and fatigued drivers, and it’s not surprising that road fatalities are recorded to triple during the night.
However, the good news is there are plenty of car features which make driving at night easier and less stressful than it has to be. Many drivers are also unaware that their car may already have these features. Newer and more high-end cars are also utilising features to help with aspects of night driving. Knowing these tips can help prepare yourself for a less anxious and safer drive home after dusk. Let’s take a look at the car features which can help with night driving.
1. Night Vision and Thermal Imaging
If you have, or you’re looking to purchase, a select Mercedes-Benz, Audi or BMW model, you’re in luck. These newer car models are now featuring technology that allows drivers to see what is coming around the bend. Think of it as your car’s own personal inbuilt premonition device. Highlighting people and animals that are on the road ahead and beyond the range headlights, these features allow you to avoid unexpected obstacles during times of decreased visibility.
2. Swivelling Headlights
These powerful, adaptive headlights are leading the way for next-gen technology. Designed to automatically shift direction in accordance with the car’s direction of travel, the technology illuminates a greater section of the road ahead, allowing you to see what’s coming around the corner before you get there. Designed to provide drivers with better visibility and more time to react to road conditions, you can be assured this feature will help simplify night driving. If your car doesn’t have this feature, Novus can improve your night driving by restoring your existing headlights to appear brand new, at a lower price than replacing them.
3. Hazard Assistance Systems / Blind Spot Monitoring
Available on a number of models including the Nissan Note and Audi A5, this system works by monitoring traffic and obstacles around your car through radar or other signals. Relaying outside information back to the centre console screen, Hazard Assistance Systems act as your own personal bodyguard whilst driving. Driving to close to another vehicle or about to change lanes? The system will alert you of any closeby hazards; helping you feel safer and more confident on the road, the technology allows you to feel like you aren’t driving in the path of oncoming hazards.
Working collaboratively with radar sensor systems, Blind Spot Monitoring allows surrounding areas to be scanned for approaching vehicles. This is especially useful for frequent city or motorway drivers as it assists with aiding peripheral vision. Communicating to drivers in the form of flashing lights, altering sounds or vibration, the car feature uses sonar sensors in the rear bumpers or cameras in the exterior mirrors. Always watching adjacent lanes for other cars that may be in blind spots or hidden by your car’s roof pillars, this car feature helps suggest to drivers when to wait before making lane changes.
4. Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)
Paving the way for ABS technology, Mercedes has been selling cars with anti-lock brakes since 1978. Pre-ABS, you had to pump breaks quickly if you needed to stop in a moment’s notice. Even stomping on these brakes would lock up the cars wheels enabling you to uncontrollably slide. Introducing ABS essentially welcomed greater stability and control. As nighttime driving requires greater concentration and faster reaction times, ABS sensors pump brakes for you and at a much faster rate. The technology can even determine which wheels need to be freed momentarily so they can regain traction.
5. Automatic High Beam
Everyone familiar with driving knows the benefits of high beams, as well as their potential to be a hazard. Whilst sometimes necessary when driving at night, utilising them around oncoming traffic can be dangerous if drivers forget to switch them off. Capable of detecting whether or not there are cars in front of you, Automatic High Beams is one car feature that adjusts themselves. Implemented in new Audi and BMW models, this technology removes the risk of momentarily blinding oncoming drivers. With one less manual adjustment to worry about, this is particularly useful for anxious drivers who are able to spend more time focusing on the road ahead.
6. Forward Collision Warning
Similar to Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning aids road safety by using radars and sometimes cameras to watch the road ahead for slow or stationary traffic. Driving safely is made easier with this car feature, as visual and audible alerts signal drivers to brake before an imminent collision. With a multitude of distractions capable of affecting a driver’s ability to react fast at all times, this system is often accompanied by an Automated Emergency Braking system.
7. Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
Often paired with Forward Collision Warning features, Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) brakes for you if it senses you won’t react in time to avoid a collision. Unlike ABS which focuses on preventing your wheels from locking up, AEB is a feature that alerts drivers to an imminent collision, aiding them to use their cars maximum braking capacity. Acting as a safety net for drivers, AEB technology has been proven to decrease rear-end collisions by 50%. For this reason, the car feature is becoming in high demand by car buyers.
8. Drowsiness Detection System
Although Stability Control and Collision sensors have increased road safety, a driver dozing off at the wheel is a human error that remains a hazard. To solve this problem, Audi, Mercedes and Volvo are equipped with detection systems that act like your guardian angel by monitoring car movement. Steering wheel angle, lane deviation, time driven and road conditions. The Drowsiness Detection Systems are on top of it. If the car feature thinks you need a break, a coffee cup icon will appear on your dashboard indicating you should pull over for a pitstop. The future of car manufacturers are currently engineering sensors to monitor drivers heart rate, breathing, posture and eye movements. All features are aimed to help warn drivers when to rest before they accidentally catch some Z’s or experience some unexpected 4WD action.
9. Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
Widely available on the majority of cars on today’s market, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) utilises sensors and radar to lock onto cars ahead to help maintain a safe distance. When acceleration or braking is needed, ACC will automatically apply it. A step ahead of Automatic Emergency Braking, ACC not only applies brakes when a potential collision is predicted, but it also tightens seatbelts. Although the car feature is commonly used by drivers on highways or in heavy congested areas, it is also helpful at night when reaction times benefit from being heightened.
Whilst modern cars are becoming armed with a range of advanced safety features that decrease the risk of accidents, it is important to note these features are still only preventative. The safety of yourself and others still depends heavily on your ability to remain alert and make rational decisions when driving.
Remember, if you frequently experience drowsiness, are easily distracted or feel uncomfortable when driving at night, it is safest to stop and rest, choose to drive in the daylight or take public transport or car services. To ensure you stay safe on the road, especially at night, you can read our previous article on Defensive Driving here.
Are you or do you know someone who dreads night time driving? You can get your headlights restored or, your windscreen repaired or replaced by a Novus Autoglass professional to improve your night driving. Preferring to repair rather than replace when possible Novus provides lifelong guarantees. Call Novus today on 13 22 34 to book in a service –or enquire online. You can discover more of Novus’ products and services here.