Autumn driving tips
Autumn’s one of the most picturesque seasons to get behind the wheel and go for a drive.
The changing colours, low sun and frost can make for a stunning landscape but they can also make for challenging driving conditions too.
When is the most dangerous time of the year to drive?
July and August are the most dangerous months of the year to drive in the UK because of increased traffic, according to data from the Department for Transport.
However if we look collectively at seasonal accident data, it’s the Autumn months that have the highest number of incidents on the road with September, October and November, accounting for almost one third of all incidents.
Why are driving conditions difficult in Autumn?
There are a number of reasons why driving can be more difficult in Autumn and almost all of them are due to the changing road conditions that the change in season brings.
Glare while driving
Glare is a major issue in autumn because the sun sits lower in the sky which means it’s more likely to be in your line of sight and if the road is wet, it can be dazzling.
There are a couple of things you can do to make sure your vision is affected as little as possible:
– Keep a pair of sunglasses in your car
– Use your sun visor
– Keep your windscreen clean and your windscreen cleaner fluid topped up
– If your windscreen wipers are old, replace them with new blades to remove excess liquid which can be a problem when the sun is low
The road surface
Autumn’s famous for its changing colours and the change in landscape, one that brings with it fallen leaves and sometimes treacherous road conditions.
Wet leaves on the road can be dangerous because they’re slippery and will significantly reduce your traction. If you need to drive over wet leaves, reduce your speed and avoid braking or accelerating hard because it’s a recipe for skidding.
On top of that, wet leaves can also conceal other dangers beneath them, like potholes or dips in the road. If you can’t avoid driving over wet leaves you should reduce your speed so you have time to react if the worst comes to the worst.
When the temperature begins to drop
Autumn brings with it a drop in temperature and the potential for frost on the road and on your windscreen.
The dangers of frost on the road are obvious; it reduces traction and isn’t always easy to spot. If there’s frost on the road it’s advisable to reduce your speed and avoid hard braking or aggressive acceleration.
Frost or ice on your windscreen is a frustrating feature of Autumn and Winter driving because it can delay the start of your journey.
It’s important not to be too impatient and to wait until your windscreen is completely clear before setting off. Give yourself extra time before you start your journey and have the necessary tools you need in your car, like de-icer. Remember that driving without properly clearing frost or dirt from your windscreen could invalidate your insurance policy.
Keep an eye on your tyre tread
It’s a legal obligation to keep a minimum of 1.6 millimetres of tread across your tyres all year round. In autumn, when traction can be reduced by frost and fallen leaves, it’s even more important to keep your tyre tread in good condition.
The official law states that:
– You must have at least 1.6mm of tread across the middle three-quarters of your tyres and around the entire outer circumference
While the legal limit might be 1.6mm, 3mm is the minimum tread depth that most safety groups advise changing your tyres at.
Caring for your car in Autumn
Autumn can take its toll on your car because of the strain the cold, damp season can have on things like batteries and electrics.
It’s advisable to clear out any leaves and water from around your bonnet and windscreen. If not, water could seep into your car’s electrics and cause some expensive damage.
It’s also advisable to change your battery if it’s more than three years old. In the cold of autumn it may struggle to get going if it’s not been well looked after.
There are a few things you can do to slow down wear and tear on your battery, like keeping it clean and trying to keep it dry, which will hopefully prevent corrosion.
Antifreeze: Make sure it’s right
Antifreeze helps your engine run smooth but it’s not just essential in autumn and winter.
It helps prevent corrosion within your engine all year round, even helping your engine cool during hot summer months, in autumn however its main job is to prevent the water in your engine freezing over.
The antifreeze levels in your engine’s system should be checked when you get your car serviced but you can get a mechanic to check the levels and top up your antifreeze if necessary.
Keep your bulbs bright
You don’t need reminding that in Autumn, days get shorter and nights get longer, so looking after the lights on your car is vital.
You should always check that your lights are in good working order however over autumn and winter.
It’s more important than ever to ensure your bulbs are bright and in good condition so you’re seen and have a clear view of the road around you, even when it’s dark.