Autumn has arrived. With changing seasons come differing weather conditions and temperatures – and motorists are being urged to be prepared before they travel.
National Highways is encouraging drivers to carry out checks to ensure their vehicle is ready for the damp, cold and soggy conditions which will arrive this Autumn – making those record-breaking hot temperatures from the summer a distant memory.
Topping up anti-freeze in your car and checking your tyres are inflated to the correct air pressure are just two important things you can do to prepare for driving this autumn.
And there are lots of travel tips and advice for negotiating severe weather on the National Highways website, in keeping with the Safer Roads Campaign, to help improve driver confidence when travelling as temperatures get colder, the nights draw in and the potential for fog, rain and high winds increase.
Andy Butterfield, Customer Services Director for Operations at National Highways, said: ‘The transition from summer to autumn brings changing road conditions and we all need to be aware of this, and adapt accordingly.
‘Weather conditions vary considerably throughout the year and sometimes change very quickly. To keep safe when travelling on our network, it’s important to adjust the way you drive and prepare for travelling in different and changing weather situations.
‘It’s always a good idea to plan your journey in advance which is particularly important if you are travelling on routes you are not familiar with.
‘Checking the weather forecast before you travel can help you determine whether it might be worth delaying a journey if bad weather is forecast or at the very least to understand the traffic conditions. There is lots of advice on our website dedicated to travelling safely in different weathers.’
National Highways works closely with the Met Office on weather forecasting throughout the year to help inform all road users of changing traffic conditions.
A spokesperson for the Met Office said: ‘As we move through autumn, the weather tends to be wetter and windier more often, making travel disruption more likely. To stay safe, it’s important to use the time when the weather is good to make sure you are prepared and your vehicle is ready for autumn and winter travel. Keep up-to-date with the forecast especially in times of severe weather. Be aware of any weather warnings and follow any local advice.’
September and October can in particular prove problematic for motorists when glare from the lower lying autumn sun could be an issue, or perhaps where daytime drivers will need to use their headlights and fog lights for the first time in months. There is also the hazard of fallen leaves on wet, slippery and frosty roads which can cause a skid hazard.
Consider carrying out a routine check of your vehicle while it is parked at home to familiarise yourself with your car controls including the fog light and hazard warning light and ensure your windscreen water tank is topped up and the wiper blades are in good condition.
With potential for hard frost and ice to come in the months ahead, it is timely to ensure your vehicle’s antifreeze levels are good. Ask a mechanic to top them up if necessary. Also check your battery is in good working order as damp conditions can have an adverse effect on its performance.
Ground frost on the road reduces traction, so reduce your speed and avoid hard braking or abrupt acceleration, while frost on your windscreen must be cleared to give you full visibility, so keep de-icer in the car, allow more time in the morning to clear it, or keep a sheet on the windscreen overnight as it gets colder.
National Highways monitors road conditions comprehensively as we move into October and throughout the developing autumn and winter period to respond and treat the roads once they drop below zero degrees and when ice forms, later on in the season.
Autumn is also the time to pack a seasonal kit of important items to be ready for any unforeseen traffic delays or vehicle breakdown.
Be autumn ready on the roads
Preparing for a journey
National Highways recommends planning your journey in advance. This will help if you’re travelling on routes you’re not familiar with. Consider:
- Planning your route
- Check the availability of service areas along your route
- Make sure you know how to operate your headlights and fog lights
- Check your vehicle
- Allow plenty of time for your journey, including regular breaks
- Pack a seasonal kit
- Check the weather forecast
- During periods of extreme weather, adjust when you travel to avoid the worst days and times of day if possible
- Consider delaying your journey until it clears
- Check traffic conditions
- Follow National Highways’ severe weather driving advice
- Take a safer driving refresher
During severe weather events, drivers are advised to follow messages on the overhead signs and listen to radio updates.
Explore more online
National Highways has lots of advice on its website around travelling in severe weather conditions, including high winds and gales, fog, rain and snow and ice. Visit the travelling in severe weather web page.
Weather forecasts and information can be found on the Met Office website here.