By Mark Cartwright, Head of Vans and Light Commercial Vehicles, FTA
As autumn begins to draw in, it'll soon be time to say goodbye to the long, sunny days we have become accustomed to. These changing conditions – darker mornings and evenings, increased rainfall, and a lower sun – can bring challenges which we all need to be aware of to ensure we keep operating safely as the seasons change.
With the sun sitting lower in the sky during the autumn months, it is vital that your field of vision is as clear as possible. Make sure there is nothing on your dashboard; there should be no coffee cups, maps, delivery notes, or anything else that could get in the way of your view out of the cab. Make sure the glass is clean, inside and out, before setting off, and allow extra time to your journey if the conditions require a blast from the demister. And remember to always keep a pair of sunglasses in the cab, as the low angle of the sun can be difficult to deal with at this time of year.
After long periods of dry weather, the roads can become slippery at the first dew or rainfall, thanks to deposits of rubber on the roads. Take extra care when driving at this time of year, and allow sufficient braking distance to make sure you are completely safe.
DARKER MORNINGS AND EVENINGS
Visibility, both of your vehicle and of other road users, is more challenging as autumn moves into winter. Check all your lights are working correctly, and keep all of them clean – spray from the road and other dirt can limit their effectiveness. Always use indicators when turning, to ensure that other vehicles are aware of your intentions. Keep alert to other road users too – more vulnerable road users like cyclists and motorcyclists can be more difficult to spot when the light is failing, so take extra time to check before pulling out. And be aware that reflective road surfaces, combined with damp or wet driving conditions, can make it very difficult to see things clearly, particularly at multi-point junctions or away from main roads with good lighting. Check and check again before manoeuvring to ensure that all road users can keep moving as safely as possible