Tips for Safe Autumn Driving
Clocks have gone back, leaves are golden and the air is crisp. Autumn is officially here!
Autumn is a beautiful season filled with Halloween celebrations and pumpkin patches. However, this can be a more dangerous time of the year to drive, compared to the sunnier summer months. In this blog we want to share how you can stay safe on the roads.
- Beware of Autumn road hazards
- Safe driving in low visibility
- How to prepare for Autumnal conditions
- Autumn car essentials
Autumn Road Hazards
Wet leaves can be problematic once they land in the road. Fallen leaves can disguise road markings, mask potholes and become slippery when wet. Drivers should be extra cautious in areas with lots of trees and drive slowly.
It is common for black ice to form on the roads when temperatures drop below freezing. Again, maintaining a safe speed and braking gently can help you navigate the hidden ice.
Wildlife tends to be more active during this season. With deer's, badgers and hedgehogs adventuring out in the early morning and evening hours, they can sometimes end up wandering into our path. It is essential to keep an eye out for these creatures, especially in areas where wildlife is known to be present, for example, woodlands and forests.
Heavy rainfall can result in big puddles forming on the road, or even flooding. In these conditions there is a risk of aquaplaning. When there is a loss of traction between your tyres and the road surface, it can cause your vehicle to skid, or even lose full control. If you do find yourself losing grip, or steering becomes light or unresponsive, ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually.
With shorter days and often reduced visibility, drivers may find themselves needing to use their headlights more in Autumn. Using headlights correctly keeps you and other road users safe. Here's some tips to consider:
- Lots of cars now have automatic lights or daytime running lights. If your car is not equipped with these features, we highly recommend turning on your headlights when visibility is limited, even during the day
- Use high beams only when there is no oncoming traffic or other vehicles ahead
- Pedestrians can be hard to spot if they are in dark clothing, so drive with caution around towns and villages
- Whilst rain reduces visibility, it increases stopping distance. The stopping distance required can double in wet conditions compared to a dry road, so remember to leave extra space between you and the vehicle in front
Prepare for the Unexpected
Autumn weather can be unpredictable, with sudden changes in temperature, rain and wind conditions.
To help prepare yourself for your drive, make sure to check out your local weather forecast. This way you can adjust your driving plans accordingly and have a better idea about your journey ahead.
It is also important that you prepare you vehicle for cold spells:
- Ensure there are sufficient levels of antifreeze to protect the engine from freezing
- Check your vehicles fuel level to make sure you have enough to get where you need to go - you don't want to be caught out in the cold!
- Tyres should have an adequate tread depth and be correctly inflated to grip the road. Check your tread regularly and replace tyres if they are under the legal limit. Be aware, although the legal tread depth limit is 1.6mm, anything under 3mm can seriously compromise performance and safety
- Brakes should be responsive
- Check the functionality of your windscreen wipers
Autumn Car Essentials
It's also a great idea to kit your car out with an Autumn Essentials box. This can include things that could come in handy on the go, or once you are at your destination:
- Rain jacket or poncho
- Spare windscreen washer fluid - to top up with in case you get low
- Hi-vis jacket
- Warm jumper or coat
- Gloves and hat
- Can of de-icer and an ice scraper
Drive Safe with SLM
At SLM, we are here to make sure you and your vehicle are Autumn ready. Contact your local SLM Group centre to have our expert team carry out a full seasonal health check. From professional tyre monitoring to battery tests, you can drive with confidence knowing your car is in tip-top condition.