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Change your driving habits as the seasons change

Friday, 10 October 2008

As autumn brings a change in the colour of leaves, motorists also need to be aware of the hazards brought about by changing road conditions, says the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists).

Fallen leaves tend to accumulate near roadside gutters and, when combined with heavier seasonal rainfall, can block roadside drains causing localised deep water and wet leaves on the road surface increase the danger of skidding for drivers and motorcyclists.

Darker mornings and early evenings also mean that it is harder to spot surface water. If the road surface is black, pockets of water are less easy to see and can cause a sharp, unexpected jolt on the steering wheel when hit.

The sun is also lower in the sky at sunrise and sunset at this time of year and motorists should be aware this can have a dangerous blinding effect, particularly around the time motorists are commuting to and from work.

The colder temperatures of autumn can also to give rise to fog. Fog is a particular problem on fast-moving roads, such as motorways but severely reduced visibility brings danger for drivers on all roads - particularly junctions and roundabouts.

Use fog lights sparingly; switch them on only when visibility is below 100 metres. Leaving them on after fog has disappeared is an offence and a danger to other motorists.

Fog can also cause moisture on the windscreen; use wipers to clear the exterior and keep the interior clean to help maintain visibility.

Motorists should set lighting and windscreen controls in their vehicle before setting off to avoid distraction while travelling.

Sharp braking can also be even more dangerous when visibility is poor.

Motorists should be prepared to slow down to enable them to stop within the distance they can see to be clear and give following drivers more time react.