Driving at Night

Driving at night has its own particular risks. With the combination of reduced visibility, risk of glare and fatigue, it is best to change our habits and adopt safe practices to ensure our safety and that of others.

Driving at night: less traffic but more challenges

Several factors come together to make nighttime driving more complicated. The principal ones concern:

  • drivers, in particular their vision
  • vehicles, in particular the illumination range of the headlights
  • the driving environment, in particular obstacles that are seen only at the last minute


At night, our vision is affected by the decrease in natural light. Headlights are unable to compensate for the lack of daylight. Contrasts are less pronounced, which affects depth perception and our ability to see movement. As a result:

  • objects illuminated by the headlights lose some of their colour
  • movement is harder to see
  • stationary objects become lost in darkness, which makes it difficult to judge distances
  • obstacles risk being seen too late

In order to properly “read the road”, it is therefore necessary to look beyond the headlight illumination range. It is also important to adopt strategies specific to nighttime driving:

  • slow down – darkness reduces a driver's field of vision
  • increase the safety margin between you and the vehicle ahead – at night it is harder to judge distances
  • keep the windshield clean and in good condition – a broken, dirty or cracked windshield reduces visibility and may cause visual fatigue



  • Low beam headlights have a range of 45 to 70 or 75 metres of illumination.
  • High beam headlights have a range of up to 150 metres of illumination.

Clean and properly adjusted headlights are much better

Light cast by the headlights must ensure good visibility, both for you and for drivers in other vehicles, which is why it is important to make sure that headlights and lights are clean and work well.

Do not blind other drivers! It's the law!

It is mandatory to switch to low-beams:

  • at least 150 metres from a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction
  • at least 150 metres from a vehicle you are following
  • when lighting on a public roadway is sufficient, such as in a town or city or on a busy highway

If you fail to obey the law, you are liable to a fine of $60 to $100, plus costs.


Taillights are what allow drivers in vehicles behind you to spot you. It is important that these lights work well and not be obstructed.

Dashboard lighting and other interior lights

With the exception of dashboard lighting, all lights inside a vehicle must be turned off to avoid the risk of glare.

Dashboard lighting can be adjusted to a brighter setting when in a city, and dimmed when on a road that has little or no lighting. In the latter case, it is recommended that dashboard lighting be dimmed as much as possible to avoid visual fatigue.

Nighttime driving

When driving at night, it is more prudent to:

  • reduce your speed, as this allows you to better anticipate potential obstacles on the road
  • avoid passing when in doubt, as at night, oncoming vehicles appear further away than they really are

Watch out for animals!

In some places, signs warn drivers that they may come across wild animals. However, wild animals are also present in other areas where there are no signs. It is important to be careful at all times. Slow down.

Glare caused by other vehicles

  • To avoid being blinded by the headlights of oncoming vehicles, look toward the right side of the road. Do not look directly at the headlights of oncoming vehicles.
  • Slow down even more if the glare from the headlights of oncoming vehicles is too blinding.

If you drive at night

Driving at night requires you to be even more vigilant, which could cause you to tire more quickly. Take a break every 2 hours to counter the effects of driver fatigue. At the first signs of fatigue, stop in a safe location and take a 20- to 30-minute nap.

Last update: June  6, 2023