Night vision – see and be seen

by Lorraine Williamson
night vision

The nights are getting darker earlier in Spain, and especially in bad weather such as rain or poor visibility, it can be difficult for drivers to see pedestrians or cyclists.

Shorter days, fatigue, compromised night vision, rush hour and impaired drivers are just some of the risks faced when driving at night. But due to these factors, pedestrians and cyclists may be at risk.

InSpain.News looks at ways both drivers and those not in a vehicle can stay safe.

Night vision

So, what should you do to help make your presence clearer to drivers?

Cyclists are required to wear a reflective (“hi-viz”) high visibility item when the use of lighting for vehicles is mandatory. This will help other road users see them up to at least 150 metres away.

For pedestrians, there are many areas where perhaps there is no pavement. At such times, you have no option, but to walk at the side of the road. This is extremely dangerous especially in areas where there is no street lighting.

However, regardless of road conditions, driving at night is the most difficult time for drivers to see.

The difference made by you wearing a “hi-viz” item, bright or light-coloured clothing, or dark clothing (similar to your surroundings) can make a massive difference and threaten your safety.

Driver’s vision

The distance from which you notice pedestrians will depend on how they are dressed and which lights you have on. The following will give you some examples of the distance at which you are likely to notice pedestrians in different conditions

Cogesa Expats

With dipped headlights:

  • Dressed in dark colours: 20 – 30 metres
  • Dressed in bright colours: 60 metres
  • With hi-viz: 125 metres

With main beam headlights:

  • Dressed in dark colours: 150 metres
  • Dressed in bright colours: 300 metres
  • With hi-viz: 400 – 450 metres

Please note, these are examples only and are not exact as each person has different reaction times as well as eyesight. Also, night vision capabilities can be different from day vision. So, 20-20 vision in an optician, doesn´t always mean this is the same after dark.

Better Visibility for drivers in the Dark


Make sure that your headlights are clean. If one of your headlights is broken, it must be replaced as soon as possible, otherwise you may face a fine.

Windscreen wiper blades:

It is important that your wiper blades are in good condition so that they can keep your windscreen clean while driving. When we don´t have so much rain in Spain, it is easy for this to be a problem if not checked. Regularly clean the inside of your windscreen.


You should get your vision tested by an optician on a regular basis. Vision often deteriorates gradually, which means it can be difficult to detect these changes yourself. Furthermore, if you need to wear glasses when driving, you should keep a spare pair for emergencies in your car.

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