Autumn driving tips to stay safe as the weather worsens

Friday, 9th October 2020, 10:00 am
Updated Friday, 9th October 2020, 10:01 am

Autumn is on its way and with it new hazards on the road create tricky conditions for motorists.

After the relatively warm and sunny summer months October brings a clear change in the weather and with it new potential hazards so here is some simple advice on how to prepare your car and stay safe while driving.

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Check your car

With shorter days and lower temperatures now is the time to give your car a quick health check including:

  • Lights - Check all lights, including fog lights are working and lenses are clean
  • Screenwash and wipers - Top up your screenwash with a stronger concentration to cope with lower temperatures. Check wiper blades for wear or damage
  • Tyres - Check your tread depth and look for any signs of damage
  • Antifreeze - Ensure this is topped up with good quality fluid to see you through the cold months
A dirty windscreen and damaged wipers are a recipe for disaster (Photo: Shutterstock)

On the road watch out for:

Slippery surfaces

Autumn brings rain, fallen leaves and the potential for ice, especially early in the morning, all of which affect your car’s grip and stopping abilities. Slow down, make sure your inputs are smooth and leave a larger gap between you and the car in front in case you need to stop suddenly. Try to avoid driving through large puddles, standing water or patches of wet leaves, all of which affect grip and could be concealing a pothole.

Glare

With the sun lower in the sky it’s easier to be dazzled. To minimise this risk make sure your windscreen is kept clean and your screenwash topped up. Use both sun visors to try to block the glare without blocking your view. Sunglasses, especially ones with polarised lenses can help reduce glare so always leave a pair in the car. If your vision is impaired by the sun’s glare, slow down and leave a bigger gap to other vehicles.

Fog

Fog can appear suddenly during the colder autumn months and severely restrict visibility so be prepared. If you can avoid driving in it, then do so but if you must drive through fog, slow down and use your dipped beams and fog lights rather than your full beams.

Fog can seriously hamper visibility (Photo: Shutterstock)

Animals

Deer are most active during the autumn months and pose a real risk to drivers in rural areas. Be on the lookout for deer and other wild animals, especially around dawn and dusk, and slow down as a precaution if you see them near the road.

Pedestrians

Shorter days mean commuting in the dark for many of us, which can make it difficult to spot other road users. During the autumn take extra care to check for pedestrians and cyclists, who may be harder to see in the low light.