VW Night School shines light on a critical aspect of road safety

Published Feb 20, 2024


You’re never too old to learn or too experienced not to be reminded of certain practices and habits when you climb in behind the wheel of a car.

That was certainly the case when I recently attended the full Night School course with Volkswagen at Zwartkops raceway.

For a guy that learnt to drive in a Beetle, has owned various cars of all makes and sizes, tested thousands of cars over the years and attended many advanced driver’s courses you pretty much think you have it all under control.

But while you may think that you’ve seen and done it all, getting the breakdown on things when the sun sets, adds a unique perspective on what can go wrong if you don’t keep your wits about you.

The course is divided into two parts, first theoretical lessons and then followed by practical driving on the track.

There’s also a practical demonstration in what to do when faced with gun-wielding men who want to hijack your vehicle.

We’ve all seen clips of these and following a few simple steps could literally be the difference between life and death.

I’m not going to give away too much because it’s far more effective when the instructor takes you through the presentation with interesting statistics and video clips that bring the message home very clearly.

Tyre pressures, following distance, fatigue, (don’t use) mobile phones, drink driving, reaction time, skids and over and understeer and a host of other factors that we more often than not know but don’t always implement, play an enormous role when driving at night.

On the evening we attended the course it had rained making the track far more slippery than usual which is a good thing considering the amount of rain we’ve been having in Gauteng.

We used VWs Taigos, T-Rocs and a Golf R for the practical applications and all fitted with a slew of safety features that you hope never have to be activated.

In a controlled environment however, it gives you the confidence to stomp on the brakes, flick the car right and left at speed or avoid an accident by doing both at the same time to see how the electronic aids operate in the real world.

Interestingly, not many people have had to rely on ABS in an emergency and it’s said that when they feel the hard shudder from the brake pedal they release thinking that something has gone horribly wrong with their car with catastrophic results.

Do yourself a favour and find a safe piece of tar road, take the car to 60km/h and jump as hard as you can on the brakes, that way when you really need it the vibrations won’t give you a fright.

There’s a very telling demonstration on stopping distances at various speeds that, despite ABS, will have you rethinking flashing your lights when you get too close to a car ahead of you.

It’s a more haste less speed and be aware attitude that will keep you safe.

The Volkswagen Night School shines a light on getting to your destination safely and reminds you that when it's dark, your surroundings drastically change and so should your driving style.

There’s also an open-source and free online curriculum that is dedicated to night-time driving education and includes learner tests at the end of each chapter.