October 21, 2016
Five essential autumn driving tips 0
Autumn…sigh, it has to happen each year sadly. Summer now seems a long distant memory, and in the not too distant future, clocks will be going back; evenings will be darker a lot earlier. It’ll be getting a lot colder too, especially overnight and first thing in the mornings as millions of us get in our cars in the gloom and drizzle for the journey to work.
For most of us, driving at this time of year won’t be anything new; we’ll have done it many times before, and will have a pretty good idea of what to expect. But the change of season does throw up a few changes in driving conditions that are worth keeping in check. Here are a few tips to think about for when the nights start to draw in:
- Leaves. In the US, this time of year is imaginatively called ‘fall’ – creatively based on the inescapable fact that tree’s leaves ‘fall’ round about now. And where do they fall to? That’s right, the road – along which you’ll be driving at some point. Newly fallen leaves can cause all sorts of driving problems. Damp leaves can cause your car to slip and lose grip, dry leaves can get sucked up under your car and get tightly rammed into tight crevices in the chassis or undercarriage. It’s worth avoiding parking near piles of fallen leaves if you can. On occasion, it’s been known for car’s catalytic-converters to cause them to catch fire.
- It’s darker. Yes, a lot of this list is stating the obvious, and for that we apologise. Autumn brings early evening (and early morning) darkness. Darkness impairs vision, and driving with impaired vision is tricky for any motorist. Exercise a bit more caution, especially when driving on unfamiliar roads. Remain extra vigilant for pedestrians and cyclists.
- Temperature. The temperatures are starting to drop quite low as we approach November. That means frost in the mornings and as we move closer towards winter – ice. Make sure your brakes and lights are in tip top condition. As things get really cold, there’ll be black ice on some roads, especially minor ones. Black ice often has the appearance of a puddle or may not be visible at all so extra vigilance never goes amiss. Be careful when driving over bridges or on roads adjacent to canals, rivers or the sea as these will tend to ice faster.
- Fog. Fog is a hazard at this time of year and it appear out of no-where. Make sure your fog lamps are functioning correctly before you leave the house. Your main beams aren’t much help in foggy condition as they tend to reflect a ‘white wall’ back at the driver. In foggy conditions, keep an eye on your speedometer as fog can distort your sense of speed.
- Preparation. Before you head out, especially on longer trips, make sure your car is fully equipped. Check your fluid levels, tyre pressure, wipers, brakes, engine, and other critical parts. If in doubt, book yourself a service.