Autumn – many people’s favourite time of year. We can practically feel the leaves crunching underfoot, the heat of the Ottery tar barrels, and the fresh, nippy air.
But although people love autumn, lots don’t know that it’s actually one of the most dangerous times of the year to drive.
Here are our must-know tips for keeping safe whilst driving in autumn weather, all whilst squeezing as much driving pleasure out of the season as possible.
Leave the leaves alone
Whilst they’re a lot of people’s favourite part of autumn, leaves can be dodgy when it comes to driving. Although you can hardly avoid leaves throughout the next few months, there are a few things you can do to keep you (and your car!) safe.
Bear in mind:
- Leaves on the ground can get incredibly slippery in wet or cold conditions. Don’t brake hard over them, drive slower, and stay in as high a gear as possible.
- Leaf (get it?) a lot of room between your car and the car in front to account for slippery conditions.
- Watch out for potholes and bumps that could be covered by leaves or filled with water. You don’t want any damage to your car, so be aware that there may be hidden obstacles.
- Make sure you clear your windscreen of leaves regularly – including at the bottom so that your vents don’t get blocked.
- Replace your wiper blades if they’re worn.
- Make sure that you have enough screenwash to cope with the increased windscreen cleaning.
- Never park your car over a pile of leaves, as a hot exhaust system or catalytic converter could cause the dry leaves to catch fire.
Beware of glare
Although the nights are starting to draw in, the low autumn sun can also bring a lot of blinding light whilst you’re driving.
Make sure to:
- Clean your windscreen regularly both inside and out – smudges and smears can make glare even worse.
- Sort out chips. Damage to your windscreen can amplify sunshine.
- Carry sunnies with you. If you’re dazzled by the sun, having a pair of sunglasses in your car can be a real lifesaver.
- Slow down.
- Use headlights to help others see you.
Don’t blow your bulbs
As previously mentioned, the sun is going down a little earlier and nights are starting to get darker – and longer!
This is a perfect opportunity to check your bulbs. The last thing you want to do is find yourself on a dark country lane with headlights that don’t work.
Dodge the deer
Autumn and spring are the two times of the year that you’re most likely to come across a deer. In spring, young deer are starting to move about, but autumn brings rutting stags that can jump into roads. With Devon’s extensive woodlands and windy country roads, the risk to local drivers is pretty high.
In fact, around 74,000 deer are hit by cars every year. Hitting a deer is likely to cause a lot of damage to a car and potentially its driver, so you really need to be aware and prepared for deer in autumn weather.
You can reduce the risk of hitting a deer by slowing down when you see signs warning you of deer and allowing a deer to move out of your way if you come across one. They famously have a habit of freezing in headlights and can run in unpredictable directions when spooked.
The same goes for other animals if you’re driving over Dartmoor. You never know when a sheep is going to jump out!
Check your tyres
You need a pretty good grip on your tyres during the autumn months, with all the leaves underfoot and the wet weather.
The legal minimum for tyre treads are 1.6mm (you can think of it as an edge of a 20p piece if you don’t happen to carry a ruler everywhere with you) but in this case, the better your tyres are, the better your driving experience will be in the latter half of the year.
Make sure that your tyres are safe before you enjoy your autumnal road trips.
Carry the right gear
Autumn is generally a mild season, but sudden cold snaps could mean your car is more liable to breaking down.
Consider keeping in your car:
- Ice scraper
- Bottles of water and some food
- Charger for your mobile phone
- Your car breakdown provider’s contact details
Now go and enjoy the season!