If you hire a car while you're on holiday, it can seem like a good idea to drive at night, as you can avoid heavy traffic and tail backs. Though it may feel relaxing, night driving can also bring its own set of problems. If you're going to attempt a night journey in your hire car, take into account the weather conditions and other factors discussed below.
Remember that the conditions you encounter will depend on your surroundings. If you hire a car in urban areas such as Malaga in Spain, Rome in Italy, or Orlando in Florida USA, your routes will be well signposted and brightly lit, making it easier to find your way. However, try not stray into any areas that are considered dangerous at night. Small villages and unpopulated areas feature winding roads and narrow lanes, which may have few (if any) lights and are much more hazardous in the dark.
Here are some tips about things to be aware of when driving your hire car at night:
- Avoid driving during your regular sleeping hours if possible. Never drive if you feel tired - it's not worth the risk.
- Make sure that your hire car's lights, windows and mirrors are clean. Good visibility is vital.
- Make sure that you know where you're going before setting out. Buy an up-to-date map, study it before you set out and keep it with you in your hire car.
- Make sure that you're rested and alert before travelling in your hire car at night.
- If you can concentrate whilst having music or the radio on, do so. Singing along to or listening to music will help keep you awake while driving your hire car.
- Don't speed just because the roads are emptier than usual. You never know what's ahead, so maintain a safe speed and drive with due care.
- Use the correct beam and don't blind other drivers with your hire car's lights.
- Be especially alert when it comes to pedestrians stepping out into the roads, as not all are easy to see. Also look out for bikes.
- Motorway driving can be very hypnotic at the best of times, especially if you're alone or if your passengers are asleep. If you're travelling in your hire car with other people, it may be worth asking one of them to stay awake and keep you company.
- Be aware of other drivers; they may not be paying as much attention to the road as you are.
- Remember that your eyes can become tired quickly and, if you need glasses, wear them when driving your hire car.
- Remember that things look very different at night. Allow for this and keep your distance from other cars. Check your speed every so often, and bear in mind that you won't be able to see as far ahead at night as during the day.
- Only overtake if it is completely safe to do so and you can see well ahead.
- Animals such as city foxes, domestic cats, or deer and horses in the country can be a great danger on the roads at night, so watch out for them.
- If you are making a long journey in your hire car, take regular breaks, and stop if you begin to feel tired.
- If you have to leave your hire car for any reason, make sure that the hazard lights are on and that it is parked as safely as possible. Do not walk in the road.