It's that time of the year. The weather is getting colder and yellow and brown leaves cover the ground. The nights are drawing longer – and now the clocks have gone back, we are officially heading into the winter months.

Recent data released from Axa UK has shown that accidents increase by 7% when the clocks go back, with particular emphasis on minor incidents occurring during the commuting period and darker hours of the day.

Despite the hybrid working conditions that many of us have become used to, the roads remain busy at peak times and with this in mind, here are some tips to help you stay safe.

  • Be enlightened – this may sound obvious but use your headlights correctly and be mindful of dazzling other road users. Avoid using high beam when there is oncoming traffic and remember that in mist, fog or heavy rain, dipped beam may actually be more effective.
  • Watch where you're going – keep your windows clean, inside and out. Damp weather, wet clothes, soaked pets and children can all lead to a greater risk of condensation. Icy weather can obscure the outside of your windows. Make sure that they are all clear before you set off and don't be tempted to leave your engine running while your car demists/de-ices – opportunistic thieves may take this as an invitation to strike.
  • Staying awake – driving while tired is a leading factor in collisions and driving at night can lead to increased fatigue. If you feel tired, then either don't start your journey, or find a safe place to stop.
  • Watch your speed – another obvious tip is to moderate your speed when the conditions are darker, wet or icy. Your reaction time will be slower, and hazards will be harder to spot.
  • Good working order – you can check some of your car's basic safety features yourself, such as windscreen wipers and washer fluid and that all lights are working as they should. Many garages offer a winter check-up service which will include tyre and brake condition.
  • Wrapping up – as the weather gets colder, carry a blanket, warm coat, suitable footwear, some water and non-perishable food in your car. It's also worth keeping a phone charger and a torch in the car.
  • It's not just you – be mindful of other road users. The Highway Code prioritises the most vulnerable such as pedestrians and cyclists. When road conditions are poor, this is even more important. All of these hints apply equally to other road users as they do to you so assume that not everyone has seen you and your vehicle.

We are used to wet, cold and icy winter months in the UK so it makes sense to be aware and ensure that you and your car are ready for the conditions. While an early morning drive in cold weather remains a true joy, being prepared only takes a few minutes.