Image by Lewis Clarke

This was my first time driving in the dark and I was a bit nervous. I didn’t want to be blinded by the glare from other peoples headlights or not be able to see another road user if they didn’t have their headlights on.

When I first started driving during this lesson, I found that it was harder to judge distances correctly. I felt like I was driving fairly far away from cars that were parked up at the side of the road. It was certainly different and something that took a while to adjust to! But I also found advantages to driving in the dark too.

After I had driven around for a while, Matt directed me out of the area that I was driving around and onto a main road which was quite busy. I was trying to change from second gear to third gear and accidently went back to one, which resulted in a bit of a bump and the car seemed to shake. I’d accidently put the car back into first gear whoops! I was really embarrassed that that had happened and became a bit scared to go into third during the rest of my lesson in case I did that again.

Matt took me on a route that had a lot of zebra crossings and some traffic lights, however it was typical that there wasn’t anybody waiting to cross at any of them and we must have gone through at least 30!

Near where I live there are three roundabouts all together which are always really busy and look difficult to figure out. As I haven’t been taught anything about roundabouts yet I was surprised and scared when I ended up at one of these three. Luckily I was going left and so took the first exit but I was still a bit worried.

I thought this would be the first and last of roundabouts for that lesson but I encountered another five! I had to go straight on at three of them, which I was scared about doing but I was glad it was dark as it meant the roundabouts were less busy than during the day.

One was light controlled which made it so much easier as I could just follow the car in front of me and not worry about what traffic from other directions was doing.

I also went on a bypass which had a 50mph speed limit and although I definitely didn’t go that fast, it gave me a chance to try third gear again. I managed it, however when I needed to go back to second gear I ended up in fourth but I managed to correct myself quickly.

After the bypass I was in third gear for most of the time. I came to one set of traffic lights and was preparing to stop when they changed back to green so I was a bit panicked as I had already sort of committed to stopping. I was in a bit of a faff and was about to go round a sharp left turn, so Matt used his dual controls and sorted the gears out for me.

I got to drive on familiar roads this lesson which was a bit surreal but great as I actually knew where I was and which way the roads went. This made a change as usually I have no idea where the end of a road is or which way the road turns until I actually get to the turn in the road.

The great thing about driving in the dark is it’s sometimes easier to get out at junctions especially if the visibility is bad as you can see lights from cars before you see the cars themselves. Obviously this doesn’t work if the cars don’t have their headlights on but the majority do. The thing I didn’t like about night driving was that I couldn’t see little roads coming off a main road, unless it was well lit which not all of them were. I almost drove past I road that I was supposed to turn down as I didn’t see it until the last minute when Matt had to point it out to me.

As a learner, I think having a lesson in the dark is a valuable thing to do as it is so different to driving in the daylight. It’s probably best to have a lesson in the dark for the first time with an instructor in the car with you, rather than waiting until you’ve passed your test and you’re all alone and unsure of what to do.

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