If you have to make a long distance journey, say from Johor Bahru to Penang, would you make the above journey during the day?
Or would your ideally perform it during the night?
Think carefully, as the above journey is approximately 580 kilometers. Making the correct decision would be an important decision.
If I were to be asked to give an answer to the above question posed, I would certainly say “night”, without much hesitation at all.
At a glance, there are three good reasons to support my decision to travel at night. A long journey at night is peaceful and serene. There are also less traffic to bother about.
Malaysia, as you know, is a very hot and humid country. Traveling during the daytime under such conditions would be unbearable.
In such situation, traveling in the cool of the night would make one less tiresome. I’m sure you’ll agree whole heartedly with my contentions above.
But, believe it or not, not many opt to travel long distances, such as I mentioned earlier during the night. This is because night driving requires certain criteria and abilities.
In short, what I am trying to point out is, to try and drive at night, especially long journeys, you should possess some specific abilities not many drivers have.
This article will therefore lay emphasis on the things drivers should ideally possess for such marathon journeys. Amongst others, you should be possession of:
1) Good eyesight or vision.
Those having short sighted vision or wearing glasses will have problems. Also those suffering from astigmatism should not be driving long distance journeys, especially during the night. At what more, in the rain!
The headlights of most cars nowadays, are nothing much to shout about. Unless of course, if you are in possession of those Xenon lights models. For your information, the above white and powerful headlights are yet to be confirmed legal.
There are some drivers who fear driving in the dark. Some believe that there are more hidden dangers when one travels at night. Unless you possess a new car, which are mechanically sound, you should not opt to travel long journeys during the night.
Trying to locate the service of a foreman or mechanic at night can be quite a daunting task.
2) Ensure your car headlights and other essential items are functioning properly.
Headlights are important when one is traveling at night. They therefore should be checked properly prior to night traveling. Likewise, the rear lights and indicators as well, should all work perfectly.
Using the high lights and low lights correctly are also important. You are advised to use low beam when following behind a car. This is to avoid causing glare and irritating reflections to the driver in front.
However, one is advised to use high lights wherever necessary. Highlights enable one to see further and clearer during the night. Thus driving at night becomes safer.
3) Drive a safe distance behind other cars and at a safe speed.
To drive at night, a driver should be advised to drive behind other cars at a safe distance. Of course, driving distance such as 2 seconds and 4 seconds rules come into play. In short, adopt a driving distance you can stop safely. This is the best advice that can be given.
4) You’re liable to become tired than compared to driving during the day time.
Nights are intended for most people to sleep. As such, a driver tends to become tired rather easily. In such conditions, a driver should drive slowly and take rests at R&R (rest and recreation) stops areas which are available today at our expressways all across the entire nation.
Take a hot drink and have some snacks. Do some exercise or stretch yourself. All these will do ample good to keep you awake.
5) Beware of road shoulders.
One important thing which a driver who drives at night should be aware of is obviously the “road shoulders”. It is here that cyclists, pedestrians and drain holes are. If there are shoulders lines, make good use of it.
Making use of centre lines, which are drawn in white, would certainly assist to make your driving at night a much easier job.
6) Taking into consideration human factors.
Certain human factors have to be taken into consideration when one chooses to drive at night. Driving at night is not as clear as driving during the day. For safety, I suggest you drive at a speed 50% of what you normally do during the day. Especially at twilight and times of dusk, the human eyes have to acclimatize or get used to such changing conditions.
At such times, a driver is advised to drive carefully to avoid unforeseen circumstances from occurring. Drive a bit slower then.
7) 2 am – 3 am are extremely prone to accidents.
In case you are unaware, the above times are very prone for accidents to happen. Human beings are in fact most sleepy at such times.
Be extra careful. I should know as I travelled rather extensively at night from Penang to Klang, with my group of close friends, Encik Abdul Rashid (who has since passed away a few years back) and Encik Salim bin Bajuri.
The trio was then attached to the Universiti Sains Malaysia (U.S.M.) then. Experience tells me 2:00 am – 3:00 am are the most dangerous time of the night.
I still recall times of the night approximately 3 am at one remote town at high speed. This incident nearly caused our vehicle to go out of control.
We were fortunately under the good hands of Encik Rashid, who incidentally was a very good and capable driver.
8) The physical condition of the expressways.
Besides taking into account such important aspects as human factors, good eyesight, car headlights and tiredness, the question of physical conditions of the expressways, likewise should not be forgotten to mention too.
At night, a driver faces many dangers. Roads are unclear. Numerous dangers exists, not to mention animals, bicycles, pedestrians and various other hazards.
The Star newspaper on the 9th March 2010 edition in an article headlined “Bull Causes Deadly Highway Mishap”, reported a bull wandered into the North-South Expressway at 6:30 am resulting in tragic consequences, leaving a 55 year old man dead. The above incident happened near Rawang town.
Drivers are further advised not to look directly into headlights while driving at night. Instead, look at the shoulder lines and centre line in the middle of the road.
The authorities concerned, that is the Public Works Department (P.W.D.) should do their jobs well and speedily drawn up the lines every time new roads are built or when old roads are resurfaced.
In Malaysia, to be fair to the above authorities, the P.W.D., have been reported to do their duties in a professional manner. They have time and again made it their duty to paint shoulder lines and centre lines quickly onto the roads each time new roads or roads are resurfaced.
Syabas, and thank you!
It augurs well for drivers of the country, especially those using our expressways and highways all throughout the entire nation.
9) Contact your family or loves ones at home if you’re travelling long distances.
Your family and loved ones, worry about your safety as you make a long distance journey. As you make your scheduled stops at R&R, remember to make calls back home.
Your family members anxiously await calls from you. Don’t forget that!
So call them from time to time to let them know that you’re safe and well. Hand phones are easily available to all drivers nowadays. You have very few or no reason at all not calling your loved ones at home.
The calls you make back home, believe me can be very reassuring to them.
Be a member of the Automobile Association of Malaysia (A.A.M.), should you envisage traveling long distances at night. It cost only but RM60 to be a member.
The assets are many, although the fee is minimal only. Think about it carefully!
A.A.M. provides you speedy assistance 24 hours of the day. If A.A.M. is not your choice, make it a point then to keep your mechanic’s telephone number in your wallet. At times, you might have to call them for assistance.
In writing this article, much researches and thoughts have been accorded to it. Personally, I feel it has not been an easy task writing such an article.
But, in my opinion, if this article which revolves around the topic of “what it takes to drive long distances at night” has been of some assistance to our blog readers, then my mission has not been in vain after all.
To all drivers who anticipate driving long journeys, do read this article carefully. Maybe some of the advices and things I’ve highlighted, may be handy to you.
Drive safely and enjoy your journey.