Driving at Night Safety Tips

By Nancy B
April 11, 2022

As a college student, I was traveling home on a rural road late at night when I noticed I was quickly approaching a very slow-moving car. It seemed to be lost or having mechanical issues. I slowed down, but before I knew what had happened, the other car came to a screeching stop, and I rear-ended it. I was shaken up but relieved it was only a fender bender. Then the doors opened, and two men got out, talked briefly, and headed towards my car. My relief was instantly gone, and I was terrified and alone.




I’m a mother now, much wiser, and usually in bed before 11:00! But I still drive alone at night and have a son and two daughters that do, too. So, I wanted to survey our auto insurance team here at NNINS to find the smartest advice for these situations. After all, we've got decades of experience helping members through tough roadside issues. 

3 Ways to stay safe on the road at night

#1 Your cell phone is your best friend- keep it charged!

If it desperately needs a charge, you still should be able to use the car’s battery to make an emergency call, even if your car won’t start. Just turn your key to the second or third ignition position. Some reliable backup batteries are also available to keep with you when you're traveling. If you can’t get a signal, pretend to be talking to someone if a stranger stops.

We highly recommend you prepare by letting someone know when you leave and get home and permanently share your phone's location with a family member. You can share your phone's locations from your settings in Apple IOS and Android phones. You can also share your location easily using Google Maps. Just open the app (or download it (android, Apple), then:

  • The blue pin icon marks your location (you must have your location turned on in your phone's settings)
  • Tap the blue pin and tap "Share location".
  • Choose how to share via text or email. Send!
Sending your location on Google Maps App (2)

#2 Never accept unofficial help

No matter how kind or harmless a “good Samaritan” seems, our times call for caution. If someone approaches you, stay in your locked car and close your window. The only help you should accept from a stranger is a phone call to 911. An unmarked car with a flashing light may not be safe. From time to time, you hear news stories about women being pulled over by a man impersonating a police officer


If you get pulled over by an unmarked police car

If you get pulled over by an unmarked police car, Goochland County Sheriff's Office recommends the following:

  • Slowly and safely pull over. Use the turn signal and proceed to a safe location along the right side of the road. If the area appears unsafe or dangerous, continue driving until you find a safe, well-lit place to stop. You can turn on your hazard lights to indicate you see the officer. If it's clear that you intend to pull over, most officers will understand.
  • Unmarked vehicles: If the officer is driving an unmarked car, call 911 to verify that the vehicle pulling you over is an on-duty officer. You can also ask to see the officer's badge and photo ID. If the officer won't present it, request to call for another officer. Always contact 911 if the situation appears to be threatening or unsafe. You can also now text 911 in most parts of Virginia if you can't call.  TIP: Officers will never give you the option of paying the ticket on the side of the road.
  • Follow the officer's instructions. Once you have verified the officer's identity, roll down the window and place both hands on the steering wheel. Do what the officer asks, including providing your license and registration once requested. Alert the officer before reaching into the backseat, the glove compartment, or a purse or other bag.
  • Stay calm. Talk to the officer calmly.
  • Return to the road safely. Once the officer has instructed that you are free to leave, use your turn signal and look for oncoming traffic. Merge slowly onto the road when it’s safe. Remember to buckle up.



Be proactive! Prevent roadside emergencies with our expert safe driving tips. If you get stranded with your family, read about how to keep your kids safe on the side of the road. 

I wish I could tell my younger self what I know now. That night long ago, cell phones weren't around. Thankfully,  I was smart enough to exchange insurance information with the other driver through a slightly cracked window. I was also able to drive my car away from the accident. If you aren’t so lucky and find yourself alone on the side of Virginia roads, follow our three safety rules so you, too, can stay safe and sound.

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