Driving at night

Night driving presents very different challenges from driving during the day. At night – without the colour and contrast of the day – vision and depth perception are significantly impaired.

The licensing laws in your state or territory will require you to log a minimum number of night driving hours as a learner; given that car crash rates increase considerably when the sun goes down, you should aim to do as much night-time practice as you can. Have a look at Tactics for tricky situations for tips on preparing yourself mentally.

Below are some tips for improving your vision and driving ability at night. You can also talk to your parent/supervisor or a Keys2drive driving instructor and use their experience to come up with some tips of your own.

  • Before you hit the road, check that all exterior lights work properly (front and rear, brake lights and high beams), and ensure your windows and headlights are clean (inside and outside). Dirty windows can add to glare and impair vision, making it more difficult to see; dirty headlights can greatly reduce efficiency.

  • Avoid using high beams when it’s foggy – they will reduce your own ability to see and may temporarily blind other drivers.

  • Avoid flashing your high beams at another vehicle that has its high beams on – this will affect that driver's visibility and the visibility of other drivers.

  • Adjust your rear-view mirror to avoid the reflection of other vehicles’ headlights – most cars have ‘day/night’ rear-view mirrors that can be tilted easily to reduce the glare.

  • Avoid using your vehicle’s interior light while driving – if you need to check the map, pull over safely first.

  • Keep your eyes moving. Watch for flashes of light - at the top of hills, at road bends and intersections - that may indicate the headlights of other cars.

  • Increase your crash avoidance space to make it easier to spot potential hazards and give you more time to respond.

  • Driving at night requires lots of concentration, which can be tiring. To prevent fatigue, take frequent breaks to give your eyes a chance to recover.

Understand the experience

After you've done some night driving, share your thoughts with your parent or supervisor. Talk about how well you think you went, how it affects you, and work out ways you can improve next time.

Keys2drive is an Australian Government-funded program providing learner drivers and their parents/supervisors a free driving lesson with a Keys2drive accredited professional driving instructor