TOYOTA has put together some autumn driving safety tips to deal with challenging conditions such as wet roads, fog and shortened daylight hours.
With the clocks going back an hour, the RAC Foundation says that road traffic collisions increase by 19 per cent in the fortnight after the switch from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time.
Leaves can cause slippery roads when they fall on wet surfaces creating a skid risk and potentially obscuring road markings, or masking potholes.
Toyota says drivers need to take greater care when driving through areas bordered by deciduous trees by reducing speed, especially around corners.
Morning frost can create icy patches on shaded areas of the road and across bridges and overpasses.
In rainy conditions braking distances are increased so it's advisable to double the distance between you and the car in front and use your headlights when visibility is reduced.
If the roads are flooded, bear in mind that a car can float in as little as two feet of standing water, so don't attempt to cross deep water.
If crossing smaller pools of water, drive slowly but keep engine revs high if you're driving a standard petrol or diesel vehicle to avoid stalling. Beware of bow waves from approaching vehicles that can create higher water levels.
When rain is so heavy the road surface becomes awash, there's a risk of aquaplaning, especially at high speeds. This is where the water between the road surface and the tyres leads to a loss of traction.
If all four wheels are affected, there is a risk the car will ‘skate' across the water, with complete loss of control. If the steering begins to feel light or unresponsive, ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually.
Prepare for a cold spell by ensuring fluids such as engine coolant and windscreen wash are at the correct dilution and topped-up.
Consider fittingcold-weather tyres, even if snow isn't forecast. They contain a higher percentage of natural rubber than a summer tyre so they remain supple and elastic when ambient temperatures are less than seven degrees Celsius. This allows the winter tyre to generate greater friction through its ability to flex and match the contours of the road. In addition, the deep tread pattern with small wavy incisions or stripes in each tread block act like thousands of tiny teeth biting into the road surface to provide additional grip, with less susceptibility to aquaplaning.
Autumn is also the deer breeding season, so be extra careful driving through rural and wooded areas, especially during sunrise and sunset when deer are most active. Take special note in areas where deer warning signs are displayed.
Fog is one of the most dangerous weather conditions as an accident involving one vehicle can quickly involve others if cars are driving too close. Leave a distance of at least three seconds between you and the car in front.
Use your headlights and fog lights to increase your visibility to others. At junctions, wind down your window and listen for traffic.
Autumn mornings mean heavy dewfall. It's important to clear all your car windows of moisture, inside and out, before driving off, so that your view isn't compromised - just as you should de-ice them after night-time frosts. The job can be done in moments if you keep a cleaning blade in the car.
Beware of the fog on the inside of the car - vision clouded by condensation on the windows can be an issue during colder months when a build-up of moisture is caused by wet clothes, shoes or pets.
Use the demister function to quickly clear the windscreen of condensation. Modern air conditioning systems offer different functions to help with keeping screens clear, so make sure you're familiar with what your car's climate control can do to help and remember to angle the air vents to achieve the best results.