Get ready for the autumn roads

The number of accidents on Britain’s roads leaps by an average of 15% every October, according to figures from the Department of Transport. Deaths caused by road accidents also soar – by around 14%.
autumn-leaves-on-road
Reasons for the higher number of crashes include expected seasonal factors such as the roads being more slippery because of increased rainfall and falling leaves – and less expected seasonal factors such as the fact that more deer cross roads during the rutting season. The low level of the sun also makes being temporarily blinded by its dazzle more of a problem for motorists. Fortunately, you can slash your chances of becoming an autumn driving statistic by following our top tips for staying safe on the roads at this time of year.

Visibility

Being able to see clearly is vital for road safety. As the low autumn sun can often make visibility particularly bad, you therefore need to ensure that your windscreen is clean and free from abrasions, scratches and chips. A smear you can’t even see in normal light can render your screen opaque in some situations – and if you’re travelling at speed, a couple of seconds of sun-blindness can be sufficient to cause an accident. Other ways to improve visibility include replacing your windscreen wiper blades at least every two years and always having your windscreen washer fluid topped up and treated with a good quality, purpose-made additive to reduce the chance of it freezing. As the nights start drawing in (and it stays darker for longer in the morning), it is also sensible to turn your lights on earlier rather than later, both to help you to see more clearly and to allow other road users to see you. And just as a reminder, because it’s the time of year when people start asking when the clocks go back, it’s Sunday October 27. Spring forward, fall back (in bed for another hour).

Animal awareness

It’s no joke about deer and their annual rut in October and November. Up to 75,000 are killed on the roads every year – with many of the accidents they cause also killing or injuring the occupants of the vehicles involved.
deer-sign
You can reduce your chances of hitting a deer – or another animal – by taking note of warning signs and being extra careful when driving at dawn and dusk. If you do see a deer in your path, avoid keeping your headlights on full beam as this can cause the animal to freeze.

Slippery roads

It takes a lot longer to stop on a wet road, so you should always drive more slowly and leave larger gaps between you and the car in front in rainy and foggy conditions. As many trees lose their leaves in autumn, sensible motorists also look out for patches of road that could be turned into skating rinks by piles of wet leaves. Other ways to keep you and your family safe on the roads at this time of year include checking your tyres to ensure they are safe. Bald or defective tyres illegal – being caught driving with them could result in a large fine, not to mention penalty points on your licence – and they’re also extremely dangerous, especially on slippery roads. The law requires you to have a tyre tread depth of at least 1.6mm, but for safe driving a depth of at least 3mm is better still. You also need to regularly check your tyre pressure to ensure they are not under or overinflated – both to improve their grip on the road and to slash the amount you shell out on fuel.

Breakdowns

Breaking down is frustrating at the best of times, and can also be highly dangerous. To reduce the likelihood of finding yourself stranded at the side of the road, it is sensible to check that your battery – one of the most common causes of breakdown, particularly during the colder months – is in good working order and that your engine is topped up with antifreeze. For those with little or no mechanical knowledge, a trip to the local garage for a “winter check” is an easy and often low-cost way to prevent unplanned incidents over the next few months. Have we missed anything out? Let us know how you find driving at this time of year and give us your tips in the boxes below.

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