Driving in the Dark

Discussions about the devices that supply a means for movement of people and goods.

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Driving in the Dark

Post by Stercutus » Wed Nov 04, 2015 12:57 pm

Curious to see what people have come up with to drive safely in the dark when there is no electricity.

For those who have never driven in the dark with absolutely no street lights and no moon it can be really, really dark depending upon where you are. Often times the headlights alone will not cut it.
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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by raptor » Wed Nov 04, 2015 1:14 pm

I have driven extensively in a dark city with debris in the streets, no street lights etc.

The advice I have is use your high beams and drive slowly and cautiously. You should never out drive your headlight's lighted distance anyway but in these situations it is extremely important not to do so.

20mph beats the hell out of walking because you damaged your front end on debris.

I actually found it easier driving in a dark city than on even familiar country roads mainly due to the fact that reflections from houses damaged cars, etc provided the ability to orient myself easier than say a 2 lane country road with oncoming traffic.

The other thing I would add is that I am anal about having decent lighting. In the 70's I added european (Cibie) headlamps in place of tungsten sealed beams. I was an early adopter of HID head lights and all of my cars have fog lights mounted properly (low and not pointed up at oncoming traffic. I also do not drive with them on all the time unlike some people.) to provide wide angle, short range illumination for turning.

IMO properly mounted fog lights will show up debris and obstructions better than the regular headlights. This is due to the shadows such obstructions will generate.

On a rural road even HID lights are not adequate if you are doing more than 60 mph unless you are familiar with the road. You may be tempted to add driving lights or pencil beams to the mix but my suggestion is simply traveling slower or learn the road in the day time.

I have a four wheeler with a really impressively bright LED bar mounted high but still on the front. In the woods it works very well. I do not even use the regular headlights. I have seen these mounted on the roof of cabs but IMO the spill over on the hood makes such mounts less useful.
Last edited by raptor on Wed Nov 04, 2015 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by LowKey » Wed Nov 04, 2015 1:31 pm

Raptor got most of it, but I'll add: let your eyes adjust to the lighting levels. Wear sunglasses during daylight hours.
I've driven extensively without lights, just with starlight and moonlight. Let your eyes adjust.

If you're going to go with man made lights, light bars and properly aimed fog lights (as described by Raptor) are your best bet.

Oh, a MAJOR thing: Keep your windshield clean, inside and out. You want it crystal clear, Event he slightest bit of haze on it will mess with your eyes and increase mental fatigue.
Last edited by LowKey on Tue May 02, 2017 5:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by Stercutus » Wed Nov 04, 2015 6:13 pm

With the windshield also the headlight need to be kept clean. Dirty headlights can really cut down on their brightness and range.
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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by MasterMaker » Thu Nov 05, 2015 6:55 pm

The color/shade of the lights also matters to some people.

I have very good night vision but when I got my current pick-up it came with ultra white/near daylight frequency bulbs in the headlights and I found that these completely washed out any ability I had to see what was in my periphery.

With my previous car, which had regular bulbs with a more yellow tint of light I could see shadows, objects and movement fairly deep out into fields along the side of the road, where as with the ultra whites I would see none of this and only see what was within the light cone(and I do drive on roads far from people and with not light sources except my headlights).

Switching out the bulbs I noticed objects that I had no idea was there when using the ultra-whites , white plastic wrapped bales of hay(not exactly a small or non reflective surface...), of which I saw a couple close to the road with the whites but that was a line of a dozen, something I could only see with the regular headlight bulbs.
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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by grumpyviking » Fri Nov 06, 2015 6:37 am

if no electricity then we are talking post event?
best time to move around is pre and just after dawn and pre and just after dusk.
if your driving around in the dark with headlights even dipped ones they will be seen for miles in the dark and give away your location and direction.

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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by Stercutus » Fri Nov 06, 2015 7:46 am

grumpyviking wrote:if no electricity then we are talking post event?
best time to move around is pre and just after dawn and pre and just after dusk.
if your driving around in the dark with headlights even dipped ones they will be seen for miles in the dark and give away your location and direction.

I hope so. If the power is off and I have to go somewhere I want to make sure people can see me and don't hit me.

Unless you are talking about some kind of fantasy PAW in which case I likely would not be driving around at all.
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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by grumpyviking » Fri Nov 06, 2015 7:59 am

if the power is off all the crazies will be out panicking, the last place i'd want to be is near some crazy folk.

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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by LowKey » Fri Nov 06, 2015 8:07 am

Stercutus wrote:
grumpyviking wrote:if no electricity then we are talking post event?
best time to move around is pre and just after dawn and pre and just after dusk.
if your driving around in the dark with headlights even dipped ones they will be seen for miles in the dark and give away your location and direction.

I hope so. If the power is off and I have to go somewhere I want to make sure people can see me and don't hit me.

Unless you are talking about some kind of fantasy PAW in which case I likely would not be driving around at all.
He's from the UK and may be thinking of the Blackout rules from WW2. While tech may have made those blackout precautions less than useful it wasn't a fantasy PAW in which they were used.
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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by grumpyviking » Fri Nov 06, 2015 8:28 am

nope I am thinking WTSHTF, not WW2....i'm not quite that old yet.

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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by LowKey » Fri Nov 06, 2015 9:19 am

grumpyviking wrote:nope I am thinking WTSHTF, not WW2....i'm not quite that old yet.
:lol: :lol: :lol:
Wasn't trying to imply you'd experienced those blackout rules firsthand, just that someone growing up in the UK might be more likely to have learned about them than a Yank.

Just as folks on the left side of the big pond might not think of including Bovril in their preps. :D
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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by grumpyviking » Fri Nov 06, 2015 9:34 am

LowKey wrote:
grumpyviking wrote:nope I am thinking WTSHTF, not WW2....i'm not quite that old yet.
:lol: :lol: :lol:
Wasn't trying to imply you'd experienced those blackout rules firsthand, just that someone growing up in the UK might be more likely to have learned about them than a Yank.

Just as folks on the left side of the big pond might not think of including Bovril in their preps. :D
i'm usually up early, especially in the summer, about 0530 some days, 0600 most days, so i'm out with the dog before a lot of people are up and about. street lights aren't on at that time of day, its surprising how quickly our eyes get accustomed to the dark.

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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by LowKey » Fri Nov 06, 2015 9:47 am

grumpyviking wrote:
LowKey wrote:
grumpyviking wrote:nope I am thinking WTSHTF, not WW2....i'm not quite that old yet.
:lol: :lol: :lol:
Wasn't trying to imply you'd experienced those blackout rules firsthand, just that someone growing up in the UK might be more likely to have learned about them than a Yank.

Just as folks on the left side of the big pond might not think of including Bovril in their preps. :D
i'm usually up early, especially in the summer, about 0530 some days, 0600 most days, so i'm out with the dog before a lot of people are up and about. street lights aren't on at that time of day, its surprising how quickly our eyes get accustomed to the dark.
Agreed.
If the windshield is clean and there is any appreciable natural light ( stars on a reasonably clear night for example), driving 20-30 mph without lights isn't a challenge.
On nights with a full moon and no clouds 50 mph on flat roads in open country isn't difficult either.
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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by doitnstyle1 » Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:00 am

If you are really worried about light discipline you can always do what we used in the military. Blackout drive lights:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... _Light.jpg

Cuts areal detection to lower than 400 ft. and I think forward or lateral detection is about 1000 ft. with good night vision. Of course if you night vision equipment they could pick you up from a good distance.

If you have night vision equipment you could go further and use IR lighting on your vehicle. Invisible to the naked eye but will light up your world with a decent pair of NVG's.

http://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/RakAAOSwv ... s-l500.jpg
Last edited by doitnstyle1 on Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by LowKey » Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:03 am

doitnstyle1 wrote:If you are really worried about light discipline you can always do what we used in the military. Blackout drive lights:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... _Light.jpg

Cuts areal detection to lower than 400 ft. and I think forward or lateral detection is about 1000 ft. with good night vision. Of course if you night vision equipment they could pick you up from a good distance.
In my experience that was more useful in keeping other vehicles (in the convoy/road march) from hitting you than it was in letting the driver see the road.
“Political tags – such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth – are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.” Robert A. Heinlein

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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by doitnstyle1 » Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:06 am

LowKey wrote:
doitnstyle1 wrote:If you are really worried about light discipline you can always do what we used in the military. Blackout drive lights:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... _Light.jpg

Cuts areal detection to lower than 400 ft. and I think forward or lateral detection is about 1000 ft. with good night vision. Of course if you night vision equipment they could pick you up from a good distance.
In my experience that was more useful in keeping other vehicles (in the convoy/road march) from hitting you than it was in letting the driver see the road.
I did fine with it. Even in convoy. Dusty roads made it pretty useless especially if your light got dusted up but otherwise it alright. I don't expect anyone to be driving convoy especially in PAW, but it could happen. This is one of the cheaper solutions to avoid detection.
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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by LowKey » Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:20 am

doitnstyle1 wrote:
LowKey wrote:
doitnstyle1 wrote:If you are really worried about light discipline you can always do what we used in the military. Blackout drive lights:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... _Light.jpg

Cuts areal detection to lower than 400 ft. and I think forward or lateral detection is about 1000 ft. with good night vision. Of course if you night vision equipment they could pick you up from a good distance.
In my experience that was more useful in keeping other vehicles (in the convoy/road march) from hitting you than it was in letting the driver see the road.
I did fine with it. Even in convoy. Dusty roads made it pretty useless especially if your light got dusted up but otherwise it alright. I don't expect anyone to be driving convoy especially in PAW, but it could happen. This is one of the cheaper solutions to avoid detection.
Oh, I'm not saying it's harmful in any way, just that I did just as well (if not better) hauling ass with out using the BO lights than I did with them. They are great for making sure the guy behind you doesn't smack into you, they just didn't seem to help me much in seeing the road itself.

If I was going to be driving in a convoy I'd want them just to reduce the risk of accidents.
One vehicle by itself....I'll run the Mark 1 eyeball all by it's lonesome if I don't have any good NVG at hand.
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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by Stercutus » Fri Nov 06, 2015 3:33 pm

Standard military IR lights are good for a convoy if you are not the lead vehicle. All you have to do is follow the tail light of the vehicle in front of you. Most units that I was in installed IR flood lights on the leaders vehicle so that they could actually see. These were normally visible for at least a mile with GEN III NVG's.
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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by KYZHunters » Fri Nov 06, 2015 8:19 pm

Another factor to account for is fatigue. Night driving will wear your ass out. I've been in too many convoys in long desert marches where a vehicle rear ended another without the trailing driver touching his brakes. Guys with their eyes open and their a-driver yelling, "brakes, brakes, brakes!" just drove right into the vehicle in front of them.
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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by grumpyviking » Sat Nov 07, 2015 3:30 am

or just don't drive at night!
post SHTF I don't know where i'd be driving to anyway, with no electric there wont be any fuel at the pumps or food in the shops and i'm far from any big city.
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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by fatty21 » Tue Nov 10, 2015 3:25 pm

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/night-owl-4 ... sdevice=mm

Something similar to this with a little less zoom can work if you have to drive with lights off. 15-20 mph is easily achieved without attracting attention. And not Bank buster.

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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by gunsandrockets » Wed Nov 11, 2015 5:08 am

Stercutus wrote:Curious to see what people have come up with to drive safely in the dark when there is no electricity.

For those who have never driven in the dark with absolutely no street lights and no moon it can be really, really dark depending upon where you are. Often times the headlights alone will not cut it.

Thankfully I only found myself in that situation once, but you are right and it was very unnerving how little I could see. Driving alone in the desert on a deserted two-lane highway, at night during the new moon.
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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by grumpyviking » Wed Nov 11, 2015 5:36 am

try driving in thick fog on a moorland road with no road marking and you can just see in front of the bonnet(hood), even dipped headlights are no good, full headlights are useless and not many vehicles here have fog lights. its just a case of follow your nose......slowly, very slowly :wink:
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Re: Driving in the Dark

Post by LowKey » Wed Nov 11, 2015 8:11 am

grumpyviking wrote:try driving in thick fog on a moorland road with no road marking and you can just see in front of the bonnet(hood), even dipped headlights are no good, full headlights are useless and not many vehicles here have fog lights. its just a case of follow your nose......slowly, very slowly :wink:
Ah...under those conditions-

1. Roll your drivers side window down.
2. Run your fingers along the centerline.

Congratulations, now you're driving by Braille! :awesome:


Jokes about touching the centerline aside, sometimes you'll need to roll down the window and stick your head out. Sometimes even the cleanest, clearest glass will be too much of a distortion for your vision if driving without any artificial lights. Obviously you run the risk of smacking your head into things alongside the road.

Another option if your vehicle has an opening on the roof is to station someone there to help you navigate. They may be able to see something before you do simply due to the angle, or by being up out of fog/mists. They may, of course, also MISS things for those very same reasons.

In all cases, don't drive faster than you can see. If you can only see 20 feet ahead then don't drive faster than you can come to a complete stop in 20 feet.
“Political tags – such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth – are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.” Robert A. Heinlein

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