Autumn Driving: The Dangers of Complacency

By Alan Tobin
Alan Tobin
Alan Tobin
September 10, 2014 Updated: September 10, 2014

We are now heading into mid-September, and the biggest threat to drivers as we approach the autumn is complacency. We have had a great summer, but it can turn cold and icy overnight, and you must be prepared.

There are a number of threats that appear all of a sudden in September that can pose a serious threat to motorists.

Firstly, it starts to get dark in the morning when you are preparing to leave the house. This means that you may not see what the conditions are like on the road, and poorer visibility on the road is always a threat to motorists. 

Even more dangerous than complete darkness is a rising sun low in the sky that can completely blind the driver—couple this with condensation or ice on the window and you have an extremely dangerous situation. Sunglasses are not only for the summer—they are even more important in this situation. So make sure they are at hand when you need them.

Other factors are the environmental conditions—in September and October you can get dramatic changes in temperature and, thus, driving conditions, and as a motorist you must ensure that both you and your vehicle are prepared.

The key to beating many of the threats with autumn driving is to be prepared. Get up that five minutes early in the morning so you have time to properly demist the car and ensure you have proper visibility. The side benefit is that the car is nicely heated up before you head off.

Be very careful in the autumn if we have a lengthy dry spell followed by rain. The roads will be very slippery and greasy, and even more so than usual with the leaves coming off the trees.

This is a good time of year to get your car serviced, and especially to get the depth of your tyre tread checked. If you are concerned about your tyres, drop in to the garage and we will check them for free in two minutes to give you peace of mind. Tyre pressure and tread depth both have a huge impact on the effectiveness of your tyres during cornering and braking.

If you would like to do a quick DIY check for the tyre tread depth, there are tread-wear indicators moulded onto the tyre that mark the legal tread limit—if your tread is worn down level with these, they are at the legal limit and need replacing. You can feel the indicators with the tips of your fingers between the treads of the tyre. 

The main issue we get from customers at this time of year (and every year!) is the car battery. There is a very simple reason for this: when it gets colder and darker, you might have the car lights on, the seat heater on, the demister on, and the radio on, and if the battery is at all weak the car won’t start next time and you will be stuck. It is a good idea to get your battery checked before you find yourself in this situation—it is an easy thing to check, so drop in and we’ll do it for you.

Windscreen wipers can often be ruined with the first appearance of ice on the windscreen. Many motorists rushing to work try to clear the ice with the wipers, which damages them. Never use your wipers to clear ice—it’s a sure-fire way to destroy them.

When driving in the autumn there are many more threats to a driver’s safety, including rain, ice, the sun low in the sky, poor visibility out of your car, or perhaps out of the car in front of you. One of the safest and easiest ways to ensure your safety in these conditions is to slow down, and leave plenty of room between your car and the car in front.

Safe driving!

Alan Tobin