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Autumn driving tips

As summer’s leaves begin to turn, we take a look at the hazards a driver can face in the autumn.

Follow our top tips to ensure that driving in autumn is as peaceful as possible.

Follow our top tips to ensure that driving in autumn is as peaceful as possible.

The late nights have come to an end and the first leaves have already started to fall. We all enjoy summer driving and the transition into autumn can feel like a drag. Dangerous road conditions and poor visibility make it especially crucial to be vigilant when driving in the coming months.

Preparation

The approach of autumn brings with it extra strains and burdens on your car that must be addressed. It is advisable to check your vehicle in for a service or free winter safety check before the weather gets too severe.

Inspect your tyre condition, tread depth and pressure and replace them if they are too worn. Consider the option of winter tyres for added safety in icy conditions. For more help consult our article about the benefits of winter tyres.

Review the state of your car wiper blades and replace them as needed (once a year will ensure the best performance). Keeping plenty of washer fluid in reserve will prevent a smeared windscreen and allow the wipers to work with minimal resistance. If you’re unsure how to this, watch our ‘how to replace your wiper blades’ video.

And lastly, perform general preparation checks such as engine oil and water level top-ups, inspect 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.

Autumn conditions

Heavy rain

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.
  • Avoid driving through standing water as this can damage your car’s internal components.
  • If you lose control of the vehicle due to aquaplaning, don’t panic and keep actions to a minimum until the car gradually slows down. Reducing your speed before reaching standing water will give your tyres a better likelihood of dispersing it.
  • Depending on the level of visibility, use your wipers, headlights and possibly fog lights (for when you cannot see for more than 100 metres).

Night driving

As the early nights descend, it is important to take extra care when driving in the evening to reduce the risk of being dazzled or missing hazards in low light.

  • Keep a pair of sunglasses handy and use the sun visors when the sun is on the horizon.
  • If the light is too severe, pull over and wait for the conditions to improve.
  • Dim your instrument panel and leave interior lights off so that your forward vision is not compromised.

Fog

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. While the mechanics of driving are not affected by fog, there are a number of precautions that must be considered.

  • 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.

Animal hazards

Animal behavior and habits change with the seasons so look out for wildlife when out in the car, a pair of small flickering reflections on the road can hint at the location of an animal during the night. Collisions with deer are at a statistical high in autumn so drivers should take extreme caution when proceeding through rural areas (especially in the early morning and evening) and take note of deer warning signs.

Call in to any of our Service centres for a free winter health check or tops-ups between routine services.

About the Author

Ruaraidh Rafferty

Staff writer at Arnold Clark

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