Guidance to help you avoid the seasonal hazards a driver can face in autumn driving conditions.
As we move into Autumn, towards the winter months, it is a good time to start thinking about the various seasonal hazards associated with this season – such as glare from the lower sun, darker evenings, and the return of icy windscreens.
We have put together some top tips from a number of authoritative sources to help you stay safe.
September, October and November experience the greatest rainfall in the UK along with the highest chance of flooding. Travelling in wet conditions can pose serious hazards and drivers must adjust their driving style accordingly; keep a low speed and remain well behind the car in front as stopping distances are extended on wet roads.
Depending on the level of visibility, use your wipers, headlights and possibly fog lights (for when you cannot see for more than 100 metres).
Fog can be a sudden and serious obstacle and it is always best to avoid travelling during heavy fog. Once visibility falls below 50 metres, the hazard becomes severe and drivers must pull over immediately and turn on their hazard lights.
Keep your speed low by checking the speedometer as fog can distort your impression of speed. Use dipped lights and fog lights rather than full-beam lights, as this will cause a 'white wall' effect. Allow plenty of room for the car in front and when slowing down use your mirrors and brake lights to warn drivers behind.
Glare from lower autumn sun
Glare is more of a problem in autumn due to the lower sun. Ensure your windscreen remains clean - inside and out – to reduce any build-up of hazy film. Glass scratches and chips are also likely to intensify the sun's glare.
It is smart to keep a pair of sunglasses in the car, and use the sun visors where needed.
Always remember: if the sun is behind you, it will also be in the eyes of those coming towards you, potentially affecting their vision.
Similarly, if the sun is affecting your vision, it is likely to affect the drivers following you, so remain aware of their reduced visibility.
Beware of leaves on the road
Avoid braking on wet leaves as they can be as slippery as ice. Leaves can also obscure lane lines and other road markers - pay attention to the edge of the road and take care to stay in your lane.
When driving in rural areas, be aware that animal behavior and habits change with the seasons. Collisions with deer are at a statistical high in autumn - take extreme caution when proceeding through rural areas (especially in the early morning and evening).
Check your tyres and battery
At least 3mm of tyre tread is recommended for the winter period. It is wise to invest in new tyres ahead of winter driving conditions.
Similarly, be conscious that batteries tend to last around five years. It is recommended that you replace older batteries to avoid any failures during winter.
Finally, general preparation checks are recommended such as engine oil and water level top-ups, inspecting bulbs and clean lights, mirrors and the windscreen. Establish that your tool kit is in good order and assemble a car safety kit for emergencies.
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