Driving in the autumn

Driving tips for the autumn

The kids are back to school, the leaves are starting to change colour. Suddenly, there’s a chill in the air. It’s official, autumn is on its way – bringing a host of new challenges for drivers.

From frosty mornings and low sun to dark nights and slippery roads, autumn presents many potential hazards. In fact, it’s one of the most dangerous times of the year to drive, with almost a third of all road traffic accidents occurring in September, October and November. That’s why it’s so important to take extra care.

To help you stay one step ahead of the seasonal switch in conditions, here we’ve rounded up the main hazards to look out for and some useful driving tips for the autumn months.

4 autumn driving hazards and how to tackle them

There’s actually much less traffic on the roads in autumn than there is in summer – so you’d expect it to be safer. But the reality is, the new season causes significant changes to the road conditions and driving in the autumn can be very treacherous.

There are four main hazards that you need to be aware of:

  1. 1. Glare from the sun

The sun tends to sit much lower in the sky during the autumn months. As a result, it’s much more likely to be in your line of vision and glare can become a huge issue for drivers – particularly if the roads are wet. But there are a few simple things you can do to help.

Always keep a pair of sunglasses in the car and use your car’s sun visors whenever necessary. Before starting your journey, make sure your windscreen is clean – as dirt and grime can intensify the glare and make it very difficult for you to see. It’s also a good idea to reduce your speed and increase the safety margin between you and the car in front.

Driving with the sun's glare

  1. 2. Slippery road surfaces

Falling leaves are one of the tell-tale signs of autumn. They may look pretty; but when they settle on the road, they pose a big hazard for drivers. Not only do they hide dangers such as potholes and bumps, they also make the surface extremely slippery and will reduce your traction.

That’s why, during autumn, it’s worth keeping a close eye on the condition of your tyres. Legally, they need to have at least 1.6mm tread depth – but to be on the safe side, we recommend a minimum of approximately 3mm. To avoid skidding, you should also reduce your speed and try not to break or accelerate too aggressively.

  1. 3. Lower temperatures

Autumn temperatures are much cooler and, at some point, frost is likely to appear on your windscreen. This is particularly common in the morning. So if you’re heading out early, give yourself a little extra time and ensure the windscreen is fully cleared before you set off.

Frost can also settle on the roads. Here it can significantly reduce your grip, but it isn’t always easy to spot. As such, it’s worth driving slightly slower than usual in frosty conditions. Take your time and be sure to avoid harsh braking and accelerating as much as possible.

  1. 4. Reduced visibility

Visibility can be reduced during the autumn months for several reasons.

Firstly, as the clocks go back and the nights draw in, more and more people are forced to drive in the dark. Detailed advice on how to drive safely in dark conditions can be found in our previous blog. But essentially, the key is to use your lights. Activate them an hour before sunset and keep them on at least one hour after sunrise. Ensure your windscreen is clean and always stay alert.

Adverse weather conditions such as rain and fog can also hamper your visibility. Oncoming traffic, road signs, traffic lights and pedestrians can all be difficult to see. So to be safe, drive slowly and increase the distance between you and other cars.

Couple using hire car in the autumn

Driving our vehicles in the autumn

Need to hire a car this autumn? All of our vehicles are incredibly well maintained and in perfect condition for autumn driving.

The tyres, windscreen wipers, windscreen fluids, and lights are all checked regularly, to ensure they’re in full working order. And before we hand over the keys, we’ll thoroughly clean the windows and ensure the car is 100% suitable for driving in tough seasonal conditions. As long as you follow the driving safety tips above, your journey should be safe, smooth and enjoyable.

For further autumn driving advice – or help choosing the ideal rental vehicle – please don’t hesitate to get in touch. If you’re based in St Helens, just give us a call on 0345 222 1022. Or if you’d like to hire a car in Warrington, simply call 01925 982 564 or send an email to warrington@psdvehiclerental.co.uk. A member of the team will get back to you as soon as possible.