Now that the clocks have gone back it's not only going to get dark early but the weather is getting colder and wetter too, all of which means driving conditions will become potentially more hazardous.
Insurers have produced data that shows that accidents can increase by as much as 7% at this time of year, particularly with minor accidents that take placed during commuting hours and after dark.
Traffic volumes have returned to almost pre-pandemic levels and the roads are certainly as busy now as ever during peak commuter and holiday times so here are some tips to help keep you and other road users safe.
- Shine bright – at the risk of stating the obvious, use your vehicle's lights correctly. 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. Don't rely on your Auto setting either, as for some vehicles this doesn't always work when light is fading or there is fog or light rain.
- Keep a clear view – 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.
- Fight fatigue – driving while tired is a leading factor in collisions and driving at night can lead to increased tiredness. 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.
- Keep it safe – 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.
- Staying warm – 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.
- Courtesy to others – 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.
It is something of a standing joke that we are used to cold, wet and generally bad weather in the UK, but as the winter draws close, it makes a lot of sense to spend a few minutes before you travel making sure that you are car are ready for the conditions.
We all love those early morning winter drives – they remain one of any enthusiast's true joys.
Stay safe and enjoy your winter motoring.