WhoCanFixMyCar discusses the best ways to stay safe on the road this Bonfire Night.
Now that the clocks have changed, the sun sets much earlier in the evening, which means you’re probably spending a lot more time driving in the dark. For the most experienced drivers amongst us, this comes like second nature; switch your headlights on and off you go.
However, Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night, poses a particular set of challenges and safety risks for drivers and pedestrians alike, which is why we’ve created this guide to help you prepare for your journey ahead of a trip to a firework event.
Whether you decide to walk to your local fireworks display or you’re driving to an event that’s a little bit farther away, preparation is key.
If you decide to walk, make sure to wear high-vis clothing and stick to pavements and paths - avoid walking on the road!
On the other hand, if you’re driving - particularly if it’s in a location you’re unfamiliar with - map out your route before you set off and make sure you know where you’re going to park. With hundreds of people turning up to some events, the chances are you won’t be the only person with that idea, and you could end up stuck without a space. Leave plenty of travelling time to make sure that, if this does happen, it doesn’t stop you from seeing the show.
Before you set off, make sure both of your headlights are in good working order and check the treads on your tyres. You can do this using a twenty pence piece - simply insert it into the tread, and if the outer band is obscured, this means your tyres are road legal.
Since the weather at this time of year can be unpredictable and usually pretty chilly, it’s a good idea to pack some spare warm clothes and a blanket in the boot of your car (just in case).
Bonfire Night is a popular celebration enjoyed by whole families, so you’ll need to be extra vigilant and look out for pedestrians. Children can easily get lost in the dark and they won’t always be wearing high-vis if they step out onto the road. Stick to a reasonable speed and pay extra attention to your surroundings.
Another thing to be aware of is that many animals find fireworks distressing, so you might find that one runs out into the road in fright. This can seriously damage both the animal and your car, so once again you should try to maintain a moderate speed which will allow you to brake quickly if necessary.
The vast majority of animals find fireworks frightening and can suffer from stress and anxiety as a result. If you have a pet you should leave it at home with a number of safe spaces where it can hide. Never leave an animal in your car for an extended period during Bonfire Night.
If you’re organising your own fireworks display or heading to one that's run by someone else, it should never be held near horses. If you see a field of horses nearby, inform the event organiser and find a more suitable place where you can enjoy the evening’s festivities.
As seasoned drivers will know all too well, visibility is severely reduced at night. The glare from other drivers' headlights can make it difficult to see where you are going, and this is even worse in areas where there are no streetlamps.
Before setting off, ensure that your windscreen is clean and free from obstructions to give you the best possible view of the road ahead. It's also worth checking that your windscreen wipers are working as they should. Don't forget to also top up with windscreen wash before setting out.
Getting your eyes tested regularly is an important but often overlooked part of being a responsible driver. If you need glasses, make sure you wear them, and if you think your vision might not be as good as it once was, book yourself into the opticians before making any extended night time journeys.
If you haven’t had enough sleep and you’re feeling tired, driving in the dark is likely to exacerbate this feeling. The National Safety Council claims that losing two hours of sleep has the same effect on driving as drinking three beers, and tired drivers are three times more likely to be in a crash. Couple this with the added risk of extra pedestrians and loose animals, and it sounds like a recipe for disaster!
Try to get enough sleep before setting off on your journey, but if you’re feeling too tired, it’s not worth the risk.
Hopefully, our driving tips for Bonfire Night have helped you feel more confident and prepared ahead of your journey. The main thing is just to enjoy yourselves! For more handy tips and tricks, check out our other guides below.