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Old 26th May 2010, 08:12   #286
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Default Night driving is fun....

Just to share my experience of night drive last weekend. Work necessitated some serious long distance night driving from Delhi to Morbi (Gujrat) covering 1150kms.

Started at 4pm from Delhi and by the time I was on Jaipur bye pass it was dark enough to switch headlights. Drove right through the night and was short of 100kms short of Morbi by daylight. Total driving time 15 hours on good divided NHAI highways using NH8 NH79 NH76 NH14 NH15 and finally NH8A. I was at Morbi at 7am.

I was driving a stock i20 with no extra lights and OE headlamp settings. The dip beam has excellent throw illuminating the left side of the road and high beam was also focused straight and to the left. This is what you need since the road on left is where most of intrusions or stopped traffic/obstructions arise.

It did not bother me much if the opposing traffic did not dip their lights. Driving with use of low beams, as long as there was other traffic ahead of me. Momentary flick of head beam to see if shadows from opposing traffic was an intrusion or not was sufficient. When there was no traffic at all ahead or on opposing side I used head beam but never constantly. Most of the people leave their beams at high but constant flicking of beam switch is great help and actually improves vision with eyes having to adjust. Else the eyes tend to get focused hypnotically only within the area illuminated by light.

While most of the places road divider was wide enough or had bushes the opposing traffic was bit of nuisance where the divider was thin or opposing traffic was at slightly elevation, especially between Jaipur-Kishangarh and then between Palanpur-Santalpur.

Most of the time I was hovering around 120kmph mark. Driving at night meant very less local traffic and so was able to maintain high average speed.

Trace of journey going out:
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Old 26th May 2010, 08:33   #287
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Originally Posted by bullinb View Post
Edit: Does your car have fog lamps? I find them very useful while driving on the highway even when there's no fog. They light up the near end of the road when you are on high beam. Very usuful on curvy roads.
First: This is an extremely irritating for any driver behind you. Especially within cities.

When you switch fogs the rear is also lit up with extra bright tail lamps. This becomes a hazard for the guy behind virtually blinding him. Of course if there is fog this will help the vehicle behind to get ample warning but without any fog it is extremely irritating. If you do need extra illumination "near" the car then fit extra lights which do not light up the rear fogs.

Second: Again at night if you are on highway and you feel near illumination is needed IMHO you are driving beyond your limit. At that speed you are already beyond "decision" point when the near(fog) beam illuminates anything.

What is "decision" point? Travelling at speed you have to account for your reaction and action time. Say you are braking at from speed of X kmph. There would be a split second(s) before your foot leaves the accelerator and presses brakes - reaction time. And then the time taken for vehicle to halt - action time. All this time elapse means that you have covered certain distance. If that distance is not sufficient then you are in trouble.

Driving at night (or day) means driving ahead of the car. Greater the speed greater the "scan" distance ahead that you need to focus on. True that you cannot always see trouble but by keeping to your scan horizon you can improve your safety many folds.

That is why it is advised to drive on the outer most lane. This gives you scan horizon both sides of the road - the shoulder on left and empty lane on right - giving you maximum time for action. Driving in inner lane is dangerous when something comes out of centre bushes right in to your path. Think about most of the accidents on highways where driver was not the direct cause but an external agency - man / animal / stone etc. - were the cause and you will hear the statement "It happened suddenly"

While you can not eliminate sudden you can increase chances by decreasing the "suddeness" adopting highest scan time driving styles.

Same holds true for all evasive actions be it braking or steering away...

So if you are not comfortable with your normal beams slow down. Sorry for the long and may be OT response. See my post before this and I have tried describing a long distance high speed drive.
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Old 26th May 2010, 09:12   #288
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sudev View Post
When you switch fogs the rear is also lit up with extra bright tail lamps. This becomes a hazard for the guy behind virtually blinding him. Of course if there is fog this will help the vehicle behind to get ample warning but without any fog it is extremely irritating. If you do need extra illumination "near" the car then fit extra lights which do not light up the rear fogs.
You are talking about cars that have fog lights factory-fitted both at the front and rear, right? Which are those cars?

For folks who are running aftermarket fog lights which only work in the front, this advice may not apply. But I agree with your argument using the foglights on the highway is bad practice.

My personal choice would be day driving, but there are certain advantages to night driving that I have noticed over the years. One major advantage is on blind spots, you can notice an oncoming vehicle much better, because of the light it shines on the road ahead. While in daytime I would never attempt an overtaking maneuvre on blind spots (such as blind curves or sudden peaks), I have less hesitation to do so in night time.

Also if you are accustomed to bad roads such as in Mumbai during monsoons, the car's headlights give you a much better idea of the potholes ahead than in the day. The headlights make a pretty good job of lighting up the road surface ahead.

Also because most of the signalling takes place using lights, driving at nights is usually much quieter.
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Old 26th May 2010, 09:39   #289
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Default Night Drive on Highways

I always prefer night driving on highways, may be I am not with the popular feeling but there are few advantages I saw while night driving.

The most important thing is before one should start a night drive, know the road, it may be through maps, local information, update from friends/fellow bhpians or you have visited the place before. Point out critical junctions and keep a note if you are going on a long journey(250km+). Now the benefits - for me, I start arround 9/10 pm after a light dinner, and minimum 4 hr sleep before the trip. Arround 9 to 10 pm, city traffic becomes less including city buses which cause the maximumhavoc on roads.Local traffic and 2 wheelers are less, yes there will be long distance service buses, volvos on the road but I have seen them keeping good road sense.by the time its 11:30 -12am, those vehicles also becomes less, now the trucks, but they will keep one lane, so you can carry on. And by 1 - 2am you will see many of the trucks are parked, not sure how many of you have noticed this, during 1 am to 4am I have seen very less no of trucks on road.(NH7, NH4, NH 206, Mysore Road). So in these hrs you can cover up most of the distance, during night car AC is not reqd much, the radio stations will play nice songs, you can keep a speed of 80-90kmph, over which in night I still feel dangerous as you never know if something comes up. So my math is during 9pm to 12am, you can cover 200kms, and 12 to 4am, 350 to 380 km, 4am to 6am another 150km(as you will find some traffic building up again). So in 9 hrs you can cover 700km, with a speed of 80-90kmph, which I feel is a safe speed.Many of you may not agree with me, but these are my observations, and night driving is fun, only if you don't have the habit of falling asleep.
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Old 26th May 2010, 09:42   #290
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sudev ji, u wrote:

Quote:
That is why it is advised to drive on the outer most lane. This gives you scan horizon both sides of the road - the shoulder on left and empty lane on right - giving you maximum time for action. Driving in inner lane is dangerous when something comes out of centre bushes right in to your path.
I prefer to keep car in central lane. Rightmost is a problem for reasons u gave. leftmost has trucks. How do you manage your speeds in the leftmost (i'm assuming thats what outermost means) lane?

PS: If you did 120 kph - how come the line is all blue? It should be mostly red, no?
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Old 26th May 2010, 09:53   #291
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Agree with asdon's observations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by asdon View Post
by the time its 11:30 -12am, those vehicles also becomes less, now the trucks, but they will keep one lane, so you can carry on. And by 1 - 2am you will see many of the trucks are parked, not sure how many of you have noticed this, during 1 am to 4am I have seen very less no of trucks on road.
Yes, by 1-2AM, traffic starts subduing a lot. But at 11PM-12AM, there are still lots of bus traffic around. 1-4AM is the best time while 4-7 can get very difficult as fatigue and sleep may attack together. Morning daylight strains the eyes and induces sleep.

Quote:
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night driving is fun, only if you don't have the habit of falling asleep.
A good sleep during the previous night/day is a must. I never do night drive with a sleep deficit.
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Old 26th May 2010, 10:09   #292
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Originally Posted by sudev View Post
When you switch fogs the rear is also lit up with extra bright tail lamps.
Not true for all the cars. My Ritz ZXi has separate switches for front and rear fog lamps.
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Old 26th May 2010, 10:34   #293
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
PS: If you did 120 kph - how come the line is all blue? It should be mostly red, no?
Simple - Did not apply speed analysis while making that screen shot output. Here it is with speed analysis and the two yellow call outs indicate where I was parked for more than five minutes:
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Here it is showing parked at Udaipur while I got tank filled up. Note the time just after midnight. The other call out near Nasirabad was where I had dinner:
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Here it is showing time and speed read out at that particular point:
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Old 26th May 2010, 10:41   #294
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
sudev ji, u wrote:



I prefer to keep car in central lane. Rightmost is a problem for reasons u gave. leftmost has trucks. How do you manage your speeds in the leftmost (i'm assuming thats what outermost means) lane?

...
Driving on left most lane on highways is fraught with danger as you may find many trucks parked without any indicators or reflectors. Most of them may not be visible with a low beam light until it is very close to you. I would prefer driving on center lane if available or on right lane if there are no vehicles in sight.
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Old 27th May 2010, 00:57   #295
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Sudev ji,

Like many others, I have the same query!

It seems logical to drive in the left most lane (assuming that is what you mean by outermost) from the POV of "scan-time" but isn't the centre lane (if there is one) safer with respect to things like parked vehicles moving out, cyclists and other such unmarked hazards without reflectors that inhabit that roadside in general?
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Old 27th May 2010, 02:37   #296
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Originally Posted by sudev View Post
When you switch fogs the rear is also lit up with extra bright tail lamps. This becomes a hazard for the guy behind virtually blinding him.
Majority of the cars don't have rear fogs. Mine doesn't. So at least in my case the first point is invalid. On a related note, I find rear fog lamps pointless and irritating.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sudev View Post
Second: Again at night if you are on highway and you feel near illumination is needed IMHO you are driving beyond your limit.
Don't agree. I need near illumination when the morons on the opposite lane don't switch to low beam, or worse, are running two extra lamps with their high beam. Fogs throw a wider beam and illuminate the side of the roads so that I don't run over some construction material left behind or drive off the road.

I agree we should all be driving with low beam with fogs off in an ideal world but, at least here down south, one has to be a bit more practical for his own safety :(
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Old 27th May 2010, 07:21   #297
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vasoo View Post
Driving on left most lane on highways is fraught with danger as you may find many trucks parked without any indicators or reflectors. Most of them may not be visible with a low beam light until it is very close to you. I would prefer driving on center lane if available or on right lane if there are no vehicles in sight.
Quote:
Originally Posted by architect View Post
It seems logical to drive in the left most lane (assuming that is what you mean by outermost) from the POV of "scan-time" but isn't the centre lane (if there is one) safer with respect to things like parked vehicles moving out, cyclists and other such unmarked hazards without reflectors that inhabit that roadside in general?
One: Most of the express/divided highways in India are two lanes so either there is inner/fast/right lane or outer/slow/left lane. Yes if centre lane exists that is the safest lane for driving.

Two: Imagine no opposing traffic (to blind you) and your headlight at full illuminating the road ahead. You can see any obstructions anywhere on the road. (Yeah you come across broken down vehicles stationary in fast lane too) But what you can not see is anything that is hidden by the bushes in the centre lane (holds true even in daytime). In this scenario now apply scan time POV and see which lane is safer. Now add other elements of opposing traffic to the scenario and logically there is no change likely in conclusions.

This is only for divided highways which will always have adequate runn off area on the left edge.

More importantly this is but one element of night driving. Use of dipper effectively is another. Vehicle speed relative to traffic conditions and braking ability are others.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bullinb View Post
Don't agree. I need near illumination when the morons on the opposite lane don't switch to low beam, or worse, are running two extra lamps with their high beam. Fogs throw a wider beam and illuminate the side of the roads so that I don't run over some construction material left behind or drive off the road.
Fogs throw light maximum of few meter ahead as per their function. If you have not spotted the construction material early enough you are in trouble my friend given the speed and braking/evasive action time.

And that is why it is better to slow down when you are blinded than drive on with false sense of security given off by fogs etc.

I do not know if you use the technique of shadow driving - using the shadows created by lights of oncoming vehicles to guide you. This and lot many other things done together can make night driving a pleasure and safe.

Quote:
I agree we should all be driving with low beam with fogs off in an ideal world but, at least here down south, one has to be a bit more practical for his own safety :(
There is no down south or ... discourteous driving habits appear virtually all over the highways.

In the end each to his own. I have shared what I have been using for night driving for past 30+ years and have been learning new things all along.
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Old 27th May 2010, 08:08   #298
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I do not know if you use the technique of shadow driving - using the shadows created by lights of oncoming vehicles to guide you. This and lot many other things done together can make night driving a pleasure and safe.
Please elaborate a little more on this technique. Thanks.
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Old 27th May 2010, 08:40   #299
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Originally Posted by sudev View Post
...
That is why it is advised to drive on the outer most lane. This gives you scan horizon both sides of the road - the shoulder on left and empty lane on right - giving you maximum time for action. Driving in inner lane is dangerous when something comes out of centre bushes right in to your path. Think about most of the accidents on highways where driver was not the direct cause but an external agency - man / animal / stone etc. - were the cause and you will hear the statement "It happened suddenly"
I went through this post again, just to make sure you are advising driving on the left-most lane. While I agree wholeheartedly with all the other thoughts you have posted, I must say I strongly disagree with your advice of driving on the leftmost lane.

Reason 1: You are always going to be driving at speeds higher than most of the slow-moving traffic such as tractor trolleys, bullock carts and (specially at night) the trucks. When left alone, the truck drivers will usually stick to the left lane. They do sometimes irritate others by occupying the fast lane and attempting an overtake-in-10 -minutes, but that's not a common phenomenon except on the Mumbai - Pune expressway. On other highways (at least in Maharashtra) I have seen truck drivers displaying rare road sense. So if you do drive in the leftmost lane, you are going to bang into such a truck, sooner or later.

Reason 2: Stranded, broken-down and punctured vehicles will almost always be parked on the left of the road. I have seen a vehicle parked in the central or even the right-most lane, but that's again a rarity. While vehicles parked on the leftmost lane are a common sight.

Reason 3: Most highways still go through towns and villages. Keeping to the leftmost edge you are likely to come across many other obstacles than just parked vehicles. People sleeping on the kerb, waiting for pickups by the roadside etc. Another reason to be added here is trucks will usually halt suddenly to pick up or drop passengers. God save you if you happen to be right behind one.

Reason 4: The likeliness of you hitting something coming out of the bushes on the rightmost lane is much lesser than you hitting something stopped on the leftmost lane.

If the field of vision is a problem, I guess you either need to realign your headlights to aim them better or just avoid driving in the night. Please don't drive on the leftmost lane as a practice. During my M800 days I have seen countless times a truck parked on the roadside when I returned in the night, and a car banged right behind it when I drove over there in the mornings. Avoid it at all costs.
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Old 27th May 2010, 11:01   #300
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@Honeybee

I think some of us are jumping the gun on Sudev's post. Note this from his post:
Quote:
"This is only for divided highways which will always have adequate runn off area on the left edge."
He has described this method of driving for divided expressways. The route that he has described (Delhi-Morbi) is not the sort of road where people sleep on the kerbside. I am sure, moving into a rural / undivided road, Sudev would adapt his style accordingly, like all of us should.

Another thing, realigning headlights has its limitations. Headlights will always be pointing straight ahead and slightly biased towards the left. Which is probably why Sudev mentions that it is easier to spot obstructions on the left shoulder than the centre median.

@Sudev

I have used the night driving techniques described in your blog to my benefit. I also have been using shadow driving since my biking days when the bike headlamp was useless against car high beams in any case. It really works.

@sbraj

I suggest you check out his night driving techniques guide "www.chaipakoda.in"
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