Autumn Driving Hazards

Low Sun: This time of year is particularly bad for being dazzled by low sun, so it makes sense to ensure that your windscreen is spotless, inside and out.  If you don’t clean it regularly, a film builds up on the inside surface which can turn opaque in the strong sun.  And scratches, chips and scuffs on the outside (cars can have their screens scoured by windscreen wipers) will exaggerate the dazzle effect.

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Puddles and lying water: With a combination of heavy rain and leaves blocking drains, large sections of road surface are often covered by water, some of it surprisingly deep.  And it’s easy to lose control of your car if your drive into deep water too quickly.  Apparently ordinary puddles can also often disguise deep potholes, so they should be avoided too, if possible.

Leaves on the road: Apart from blocking drains, leaves can cause two main problems.  First, they often cover road markings and obscure junctions, where they also make braking more hazardous.  They also make wet roads more slippery then usual, so take extra caution on tree-lined streets.

Wind: On open roads – and particularly on bridges and motorways – high-sided vehicles not only swerve from side to side, but can actually topple over.  And after overtaking one, having been sheltered while alongside, a strong wind can actually force you towards the centre of the road.  In towns, wheelie bins, dustbin lids and other debris can cause you to swerve to avoid them. 

Verges: Take care when you’re driving on more rural roads, as verges will be soft.  When faced with oncoming traffic using the whole width of the road, this can take you off the tarmac, which could result in your car starting to sink.

Summary: Observation, caution and planning to take account of the changing road conditions are the key things to remember.  Skill levels vary, and some drivers might feel far more comfortable with a couple of hours’ extra tuition under their belt.  Go out in the dark, in the rain, in the wind.  It’s surprising how much more competent drivers can become with even a small amount of season-specific training.

© Adrian Lord 2009 - 2019