Image Credit: (Lily Banse) | Unsplash
In Singapore, we’re lucky enough to have well-maintained, well-paved, and well-lit roads that make for an incredibly smooth experience. However, driving in the dark has its special risks, and even veteran drivers need to take special care whilst doing so. Even with our pristine road network, it’s crucial to keep you and your loved ones even safer by following these 9 tips for driving at night in Singapore:
1. Do not drive inebriated or sleep-deprived
In hectic Singapore, there are countless overworked and sleep-deprived hard worker bees, and it seems like the consequences reach far beyond the workplace and home. Driving in a state of drowsiness is just as risky as driving under the influence, and should be avoided like the plague. Needless to say, if you’ve taken more than one drink, or have had drowsy medicine, do not get behind the wheel.
In 2018, a fatigued police van driver crashed his van into a concrete barrier on the expressway, simultaneously throwing his fellow officer, who later suffered horrendous injuries, onto the road with the impact. Need we say more?
2. Dim the lights of your dashboard
Your eyes are going to need a little more help at night, so please do yourself a favour by dimming the brightness of your dashboard lights when you’re traversing our roads at night. This way, there’ll be fewer reflections on your windshield, and your precious eyes won’t get too confused or distracted by your disco-worthy LEDs. Singapore thanks you, o’ Light Dimmer.
3. Do not wear glasses with reflective lenses
Brands such as Owndays, Visual Mass, and Foptics have done so well in Singapore, and we think it’s due to all the tuition and homework Singaporeans have to endure from a young age. So, it’s little surprise that most of our drivers are bespectacled and bothered.
If you’re a four-eyed driver and drive at night often, it’s best to get anti-reflective lenses, as they allow more light to reach your eyes. Glasses to avoid are light-adjusted glasses (the ones that make you look like a Ji Ko Pek, and yellow-tinted glasses, which do not allow enough light through to your peepers.
4. Keep your windshield clean by using The Straits Times, Today, or other newspapers
Before you sell all your newspapers to your resident Garang Guni, remember to keep some old news for cleaning your car. Newspapers work better than paper towels because they do not leave a residue of lint or ink stains. Bonus points if you dip your newspaper in a mixture of vinegar and water before you start cleaning your windshield. (Cough) This applies to your windows, headlights, and mirrors as well. Don’t be lazy!
If you realize you’ve got a dirty headlight or windshield while already on the road, the solution is simple: Stop at a safe spot like a gas station and get a-scrubbin’ before you rev your engines again. Of course, in order to prevent such a situation, it’s best if you stick to a regular car maintenance routine that allows you to make sure other parts of your vehicle, such as your brakes and indicators, are working properly as well. You’re welcome.
5. PIE or not: Keep a safe distance and go slow
We know just how tempting it is to up the ante when you finally have all that nighttime quiet and space, but whether you’re drifting across the PIE or are coasting along a neighborhood area, you’ll need to fight that little devilish voice that says “go faster”, and maintain a safe distance and speed.
Why? Simply because your reflexes and vision aren’t going to be as sharp at night as in the daytime – So if you can reach the car in front of you before counting to three, go slower lah.
In February 2021, the famously fatal Tanjong Pagar car crash killed five BMW occupants – The driver had been speeding in the wee hours of the morning and had crashed into a shophouse before the vehicle became engulfed in flames.
6. Always carry a reflective triangle and a hi-vis kit in your boot
Nobody plans for an accident. Well, nobody but you! It’s always best to be prepared for mishaps, which is why you need to have a hi-vis kit in your boot that includes a: reflective triangle, a flashlight, a reflective jacket, and jumper cables. It’s also wise to always carry a phone charger with you so you’ll never be stranded without help when you really need it.
7. Use a GPS for those late-night supper trips
There’s a reason why ghosts, demons, and predators alike mostly attack us at night: Human beings are weak and frail in the darkness. Having a GPS in your car will ensure you’re never lost on the road, or flailing about for directions should sudden bad weather occur. Even if you’re driving on a familiar road, you could very well miss a turn on a dark and wet road. Remember to use the voice function on your GPS so you’re not constantly squinting at your screen.
If you suspect you have myopia (Here’s a few clues: squinting at menu boards when at a Hawker Centre, not being able to read signboards with clarity, or not recognizing your friends from a distance away), we suggest relooking point number 3, pronto.
8. Use your high beams appropriately / Don’t look into the light!
When you’re driving on a poorly lit road or are caught in shit weather, do not be shy about using those high beams if your headlights aren’t doing the trick. High beams offer you much-needed visibility and can prevent you from getting into a boo-boo whilst behind the wheel.
However, we’d like to stress that it is very rude and unsafe for you to be shining your high beam lights when following or approaching a car. Most cars have automatic systems that enable motorists to adjust their lights when cars are close by, so use them, or simply get in the habit of dipping your headlights when you see an oncoming vehicle.
If you’ve been dazzled while driving in the wee hours, slow down or pull over if you can so you can give your eyes time to adjust before you continue your journey.
Pro tip 1: If you don’t have an auto-dimming rearview mirror, toggle that little button below it. It turns on the night setting for your mirror and helps with the glare when driving at night.
Pro tip 2: When high-beaming cars come towards you, cast your gaze down temporarily, while focusing on the white line.
9. Watch out for vulnerable road users and inexperienced drivers
Now, this might sound a little absurd, but you’re bound to see a car or two without their headlights on at night. If that driver is yourself, follow these instructions:
- Look into a mirror
- Give yourself a tight slap
We’re kidding about slapping yourself silly, but we’re not joking around about the fact that some motorists think that our street lighting is so good that they don’t need to switch on their headlights at night, or only have their fog lights on. It’s difficult to spot these menaces from a distance, but thankfully, if you’re alert enough, you’ll still be able to catch some reflective lights from their windows or reflectors.
- These same drivers might randomly switch lanes or make last-minute exits, so be extra wary.
In the same vein of caution, please watch out for elderly pedestrians, animals (yes, they exist in Singapore), cyclists, and children who will all be less than visible at night. Some will be tiny, and others will be wearing dark-coloured clothing, making them near impossible to spot. Others still, in either two or four-legged varieties, might jaywalk. Note to self: Not all Ah Mas go to bed early, and neither do cats.
We hope these 9 safety tips for driving at night in Singapore keep you and your loved ones safe and accident-free. Remember, all sorts of heinous things happen more at night – Hauntings, alien attacks, crime, and car accidents. Stay in the light as much as you can, but if you have to drive in the dark, don’t forget what you’ve just read. Godspeed.