The long days are drawing to a close, and the trees are starting to shed their leaves. These are sure signs that autumn has replaced the summer. I love this time of the year, but it can present challenges for motorists and other road users. This is why we’ve come up with some tips to get you safely through the season.
Check tyres and wipers
You need good grip on your tyres during the autumn. The legal minimum for tyre treads is 1.6mm. An easy way to check this is by inserting a 20 pence coin into the main grooves of your tyres. If the coin’s outer band is concealed, then the tread is above the limit. If the band is noticeable, then your tyres could be illegal and should be examined by a tyre professional. Fundamentally, the deeper the tread is on your tyres, the safer you’ll be. Also, ensure your windscreen wipers are working correctly. If they squeak or leave streaks, you’ll know the rubber blades on your wipers need changing.
Tyre repair and replacement
If you’re a Motability Scheme customer then tyre repair and replacement from Kwik Fit is included as part of your worry-free lease package, so you can get back on the road as quickly and safely as possible.
If you’re travelling past trees, be aware that fallen leaves can hide potholes and road markings. So, ensure you’re driving carefully enough to handle anything unexpected. Also, leaves can make the road surface slippery, especially during wet weather. This means stopping distances will increase. Therefore, leave a bigger gap than usual between you and the vehicle in front.
Be mindful of the low autumn sun and keep some sunglasses in your glovebox. Be ready to pull your car’s sun visor down quickly, particularly in the early morning or late afternoon. Keeping your windscreen clean on the inside as well as the outside will also help. Also, you might be unseen by other road users if you’re driving out of the sun, so be alert and don’t be shy about switching on your headlights.
Driving in the dark
Autumn is the season when the clocks go back one hour, bringing shorter days and darker nights. If you haven’t been behind the wheel in the dark for a little while, or you’re worried about driving with less light, it’s a good idea to do some short night drives so you adjust to it. This will be particularly important if you need to make long trips in the autumn.
Frost and condensation
Give yourself time in the colder mornings for your vehicle to warm up. Use your car’s demister and windscreen wipers to dispel condensation and frost from your windows before you drive off. But don’t be tempted to leave your vehicle unattended. Also, frost on the road surface reduces traction, so it’s sensible to keep your speed down. Sudden cold snaps mean you should consider keeping a can of de-icer, and an ice-scraper in your car as well.
Fog can appear quite suddenly at this time of the year, so keep your speed down and use dipped lights and fog lights. Don’t be tempted to turn on your full beam, though, as this will dazzle other road users and reflect a white wall of mist at you. Allow lots of room for the vehicle in front, and when reducing your speed, use your mirrors and brake lights to alert motorists behind you. It’s also worth noting that fog can make the road slippery.
Be aware of sudden winds on open roads and bridges. As gusts hit your car, you may be fleetingly nudged off course. Be particularly careful when overtaking high-sided vehicles, too, because strong winds can make them unstable.
Children are well and truly back at school by the autumn, and that means you need to be extremely vigilant when travelling near schools. Be particularly aware at the end of the school day – anywhere between 3-5 pm. Youngsters, whether walking or cycling, won’t always be easy to see if they’re not wearing reflective clothing. And when it comes to Halloween, be watchful for young people, often dressed in dark costumes, trick-or-treating. Of course, families will be heading to Bonfire Night events only a few days later, so, keep an eye out for excitable children fascinated by fireworks.
We have some beautiful wildlife in the UK, and animal behaviour can change in autumn. Rabbits, foxes and even badgers can run out, so be aware of wildlife, especially when driving through rural areas. A couple of small glimmering reflections on or near the road can point to the whereabouts of an animal at night.
About the Scheme
The Motability Scheme provides an affordable way for people with disabilities to lease a car, scooter or powered wheelchair in exchange for their mobility allowance. Insurance, breakdown assistance, servicing and maintenance is already arranged and included in the price you pay, so you can enjoy the freedom that comes with a worry-free lease.
- Read more about types of car available to lease through the Motability Scheme.
- Find out more about the range of fuel types available, including electric and hybrid vehicles