Driving at night is daunting in most countries in Africa where there are no road signs. Even where the scrap metal dealers haven’t made a quick deal out of the road signs, in the dark, most of the road signs are not clearly visible over long distances.
In most cases, the driver is forced to follow his/her instincts and the skills you learned at the driving school. At night, it becomes challenging to make out of most things that may be along the way. Furthermore, if you have been driving for a several hours alone, you may be tempted to doze off a bit, especially if you are driving an automatic transmission vehicle. Sadly, that could be the last “sleep a wink” you will ever have.
With a few helpful tips, you can drive safely at night and arrive alive:
Prepare for the drive thoroughly
The first thing that you need to know is what routes you are going to take. That way, you can find out whether there are any steep descents and ascents, s-bends, sharp corners, sections where the road is damaged and so on. You can find out from people or from the internet.
You need to get you car ready. Check the tires, the oil, the fuel… everything! Clean the headlights and the windscreen. You do not want any obscurities when you are driving at night, do you? You want your vision to be cat-sharp. Is your cellphone charged? Let a few people know where you are headed and what routes you will take. This makes you feel safer with people watching your back.
Note one thing… driving at night on a weekday is not so bad, but on a weekend night, risks are double because of drunk drivers. Please be extra careful!
How to drive – hitting the road
You car is ready; you are ready… now it’s time to hit the road. Light your car headlights early, say, about six in the evening, so that you can warm them up and so that you can rectify any problem in good time.
Don’t smoke! Tobacco smoke will cloud your vision and should that happen at the most inopportune moment, well … that is the last fag you will ever have.
Keep a bigger distance between you and the car ahead, bigger than you usually do during the day.
If you see cattle, deer and other animals crossing the road at some point, slow down as much as you can. You see, animals mostly cross the road in herds and if you see one, there most likely will be another one.
Use low beams when behind or opposite another car so that you do not blind the other drivers. You wouldn’t like them to blind you either, would you?
In case of breakdown
Sometimes, no matter the level of preparations that you have taken, breakdowns happen. If your car breaks down, park it as far away from the road as you can and switch your hazard lights on. Use your lifesavers too and call for help on your cellphone.