DRIVE SAFELY THIS AUTUMN
Autumn is one time of the year that requires motorists to take particular care on the roads, and the ACL has put together some information and useful advice to help drivers stay safe.
Clean your windows inside and out on a regular basis to ensure optimal visibility at all times. It is also important to check the condition of your windscreen wiper blades and to clean them and replace any faulty rubbers when necessary.
Driving in fog
Even when driving in only minor fog it is important to reduce your speed and turn on your dipped headlights. If visibility is less than 50m you should also turn on your fog lights and maintain a comfortably safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front. You should also alter your speed to reflect the conditions, e.g. max. visibility 50m = max. speed 50km/h.
Dead leaves, fallen fruit and mud
A carpet of dead leaves may look very picturesque when you’re out for a walk, but on the road it can be treacherous. It is important to be particularly careful on bends in wooded areas and on paths, which are often strewn with crushed, over-ripe fruit as well as leaves. The roads can also become slippery at gateways to fields, where tractor tyres generously churn up clumps of earth and muddy silt. The same is true in areas surrounding gateways to construction sites. As soon as anything comes between the tyre and the road it lessens the vehicle’s grip and can even prevent it from having any grip at all, meaning that you should reduce your speed and go very easy on the brake pedal.
Staying ahead of the game
During the night and at dawn motorists should expect to come across game on the road. Greater care should be taken in wooded areas and on the edges of forests and it is vital to take note of ‘passage de gibier’/‘game crossing’ signs and watch your speed in such areas.
Danger of aquaplaning
Wet roads mean that the vehicle’s grip is halved and braking distances doubled. Any rain that falls during torrential downpours and stagnates can cause a vehicle to aquaplane. Again, it is vital that you reduce your speed in such cases, turn on your dipped headlights and increase the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front.
Beware of frost
Early-morning frosts are common once the autumn months arrive and it is important to look out for icy patches, particularly on bridges and exposed hills and in forests. Here, too, there is a risk of skidding on wet or frosty dead leaves. The ACL generally advises motorists to take preventive measures when driving in order to maintain full control of their vehicles at all times.
Automatic lights: Unreliable in fog
Lots of motorists put their blind faith in their vehicle’s automatic light system, but these systems don’t always work in foggy conditions. Let us explain: An increasing number of vehicles these days are fitted, either as standard or as an optional extra, with automatic light systems that turn the vehicle’s lights on when the light fades. They are very practical in day-to-day situations, giving the driver a certain sense of reassurance and safety, particularly when entering tunnels, for example, or driving in forests or at dusk, since the driver does not need to think about turning their headlights on or off. That said, such systems have their limitations and should not be trusted entirely. Since the automatic turning on of the vehicle's lights relies on a series of sensors designed to measure the level of light, the mechanism is unable to recognise certain situations, such as fog, rain, fumes and even relatively clear conditions, in which the case driver will need to turn the lights on manually. In the event of thick fog, they will also need to turn the fog lights on manually.
Finally, it is also worth remembering that daytime running lights help make the vehicle more visible during daylight hours, but since daytime lights are usually only fitted to the front of the car the driver must also remember to turn on their headlights in poor weather conditions.