After such a glorious summer, it's sad to say we're starting to think about the autumn – it won't be long until the clocks go back, bringing darker mornings and evenings, and autumnal road conditions. And these changing conditions can bring challenges which we all need to be aware of to ensure we keep operating safely as winter approaches.
With the sun sitting lower in the sky during the winter months, it is vital that your field of vision is as clear as possible. Make sure your dashboard is totally clear – no coffee cups, maps, delivery notes or anything else should be on there to 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. 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.
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 or across traffic. 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 manoeuvering to ensure that all road users can keep moving as safely as possible.