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Seasonal tips for new drivers

May 5, 2021

As a new driver, you’ve spent months grafting to prove your road-readiness. Now, driving licence in hand, you’re free to get out on the road.

But no matter how well you did on your test, years behind the wheel will bring experience and wisdom you can’t get any other way. For example, as the seasons change, you need to know what that means in terms of being a responsible driver.

In this article we will look at each season, what it means for you as a driver and what you can do to keep yourself and others safe on the roads.

We’ll also explore how first time driver insurance from Smartdriverclub can help protect you throughout the whole year.

Why do seasons affect drivers?

Season changes may be subtle sometimes in the UK, but they still present new dangers to drivers of all levels. Cold weather brings its own hazards, as does hot weather, so it’s important to know what to expect.

Meanwhile, as seasons change, so do our habits. The dangers of the road in summer, when people are outside more often, are different to the winter. It affects how many people are out walking around, what they’re doing and what kind of danger they present.

There is also constant risk of damage to your vehicle if you don’t look after it properly. From cold snaps to April showers and blazing summer heat, it can all affect your car’s performance.

The last thing you’ll want to happen is an accident or breakdown that could have been avoided with some simple seasonal preparation.

Cold weather brings its own hazards, as does hot weather, so it’s important to know what to expect.

A car driving along a windy road in the country side
Making the most of summer

When we think of summer, we think of lovely weather, relaxing in the sun, and good times with friends and family.

As a new driver, you might be thinking of finally taking that road trip you’ve been dreaming about. But first, consider how the summer could impact on your driving.

With better weather, the streets naturally become busier, full of distracted pedestrians checking phones and chatting to friends. As a driver, this means summer is a time to be extra vigilant – particularly in urban areas.

The glare of the summer sun is a hazard behind the wheel, so make sure your windscreen is cleaned properly to reduce the impact. You should also try to keep some sunglasses suitable for driving in the car.

Hot weather may be great for relaxing, but it can make driving tough, especially for long periods.

The heat of the sun will induce tiredness much more quickly, so take regular breaks on a long drive, and 15 or 20 minute naps if necessary. And when you stop to eat, avoid having alcohol or a heavy meal.

Hayfever can be another common problem that appears in summer. Drowsiness can also be brought on by your medication, so make sure yours doesn’t cause tiredness that would make you a hazard behind the wheel.

You can close windows and air vents to stop pollen from getting into the car, regularly dust your mats, carpets and seats, and keep tissues close by.

If you are suffering from particularly bad hayfever, it can be dangerous to drive a long distance, so it could be wise to ask a friend or relative to drive instead.

Your car will also react to the summer in specific ways, especially when it is extremely hot outside. The risk of overheating while you’re sat in traffic becomes more prevalent.

Have your engine cooling system checked regularly to prevent this becoming an issue. If you fail to spot overheating early, not only can it cause long-term damage to your car, but it will be reflected in your mechanic bill.

Another risk that increases at this time of year is tyre blow-outs. It’s highly important to check them regularly to spot signs of damage and ensure they’re at the right pressure.

Otherwise, combined with the heat of the roads, you’re much more likely to end up with a puncture, which could cause a serious accident.

Remember that with insurance for first time drivers from Smartdriverclub, you’ll get 24/7 crash assistance as standard thanks to the Smartplug fitted to your car.

As a new driver, you might be thinking of finally taking that road trip you’ve been dreaming about. But first, consider how the summer could impact on your driving.

Two girls in a car driving with their sunglasses on with the sun behind

Being prepared in autumn

As summer ends, the nights get shorter and the hot weather begins to fade. But amid the beauty of the falling leaves and the festivities of Halloween, drivers have new considerations in order to stay safe on the road.

Autumn’s low sun will present challenges for any driver. Visibility can be affected, particularly at sunrise and sunset, and you may struggle to navigate in the usual way. The sunglasses in your car will help, as will your sun visors.

Maintaining your windscreen will also help. Clean it regularly so that the view is not impeded by dirt or bugs, while having any chips or scratches repaired as soon as possible before they get any worse.

These marks can heighten the glare and make it even harder for you to see where you’re driving. Meanwhile, regular checks of the wiper blades will help maintain the windscreen. The blades wear out fairly quickly, so it’s a good idea to replace them every couple of years or so.

Also, keep in mind that you’re not the only one who will be struggling to see clearly. If the sun’s glare is affecting your vision behind the wheel, other drivers around you will be experiencing the same thing. And when the sun is behind you, it will be in the eyes of drivers going in the opposite direction.

In the lower visibility of autumn, it’s vital to keep an eye out for pedestrians, whether it’s children going to or from school, people out taking part in Halloween festivities, or families out for a walk in rural areas.

The autumn weather can make roads slippery, and not just from rain. The Fire & Rescue Service advises that fog also makes roads wet, even more so when covered with soggy fallen leaves.

Cars in this environment may struggle to stop efficiently, which could lead to accidents. It is advised to leave a greater stopping distance between your car and cars in front in case you need to brake suddenly.

With all this in mind, try to take extra care, drive slowly if you need to, and anticipate all potential dangers.

Autumn is also the perfect time to get ready for winter, a season that is full of surprises as a driver and if you’re caught unprepared, it could be a disaster. Make your life much easier by prepping your car now to avoid any mishaps.

Regularly check your bulbs and brakes to make sure they’re in full working order, and don’t forget your battery, too. Batteries tend to last around five years, and they lose charge quicker in colder temperatures.

Make sure if you do need to replace it, you’ve done so before winter – otherwise you could be stranded out on the cold.

Amid the beauty of the falling leaves and the festivities of Halloween, drivers have new considerations in order to stay safe on the road.

A car parked at the side of a road with brown leaves littering the roadside
Getting through the winter

Winter is undoubtedly the most challenging season for drivers, and when you’re a new driver it can feel even more daunting.

The weather is at its harshest point in the year, with winter bringing freezing temperatures as well as regular rain, ice and snow. As a driver, no matter what your experience level, you need to be vigilant at all times.

This means doing a lot of checking and planning before journeys in order to reduce the risk to yourself, other drivers, and pedestrians. Be ready for sudden weather changes and don’t take your safety for granted, even on roads you use every day.

Although there’s never a bad time to check your car, it must be done very regularly throughout winter. This includes checking the oil and maintaining your tyres in a season where you’ll be driving on snowy, icy and wet surfaces.

There are checks you can do to help keep yourself safe, starting with checking the tread depth, which is the rubber on your tyres that contacts the road to provide grip.

In the UK, the legal minimum depth for your tyre tread is 1.6mm. A quick and simple way to check if your tread depth is above the legal limit is with the 20p test.

Place a 20p coin into the tyre’s grooves and if you can’t see the outer band of the coin, then your tyre is above the limit. If you can see the outer band, they should be checked by a professional and potentially replaced.

This may be the legal limit all year round, but in the winter months it’s recommended to have a tread depth of at least 3mm or more to prepare you for conditions on slippery roads.

Also check that the air pressure in your tyres is correct, ideally doing this at least once a month and before any long car journey.

You may want to consider having specialist winter tyres fitted for the season, which offer much better grip and ability to handle low temperatures.

Another good idea is to have a ‘winter kit’ for the car, containing all the essentials you’ll need to get your vehicle through winter in one piece – as well as being to hand if you get stuck somewhere.

The UK Government recommends including a torch and first aid kit, as well as an ice scraper and de-icer to keep the front and rear windscreens clear. Also include jump leads in case you get a flat battery, which is much more likely in winter.

Food, drink, warm clothes and blankets will help you wrap up and stay comfortable in the car if it breaks down.

Meanwhile, if you need to get out – particularly in the dark – having some high-visibility clothes to hand could save your life.

Winter is undoubtedly the most challenging season for drivers, and when you’re a new driver it can feel even more daunting.

A windscreen with frost frozen onto it
Staying alert in the spring

So you’ve survived the winter months and your car is still in great shape.

Now it’s time for the traditionally milder months of spring. But despite having the harsh winter behind you, spring is still a time that requires vigilance and care.

The weather may improve from winter, but it will still be quite erratic – with flooding and sometimes snow seen as late as April. As a result, the roads can be treacherous and you should take extra care.

If you have fitted winter tyres, it might be worth considering keeping them on until closer to summer to be prepared for swings in weather where temperatures will regularly be low.

But as the ground gets drier, this will speed up the wearing of winter tyres. Keep an eye on them and make sure you do eventually change them before spring ends. Otherwise, you could get to the following winter with a set of special tyres that are dangerously worn down.

Meanwhile, as in autumn, low sun can be a problem for spring drivers. As well as keeping your windscreens in top shape, make good use of your adjustable mirrors and visors to reduce issues from screen glare.

After the darker, shorter winter days, spring is the time that people start to get out and about. For drivers, this means being aware of your surroundings, particularly in rainy, cold, windy weather.

It’s also the season where much wildlife comes out of hibernation to roam around and find food.

In order to prevent animal deaths, as well as endangering anyone in your car and the car itself, it’s important to understand this increased risk.

Particularly in rural areas, it’s vital to slow down and watch out for wild animals near the road.

Now it’s time for the traditionally milder months of spring. But despite having the harsh winter behind you, spring is still a time that requires vigilance and care.

The sun rising behind a country road surrounded by green fields and budding trees
A helping hand with first time driver insurance

For young and first time drivers, no matter how skilled or careful you are behind the wheel, affordability of insurance can be a real issue.

That’s why Smartdriverclub is perfect for those in need of first time driver insurance.

It uses a range of technological solutions that allow your first time driver insurance premiums to be based on your proven competency while allowing you to enjoy your first experiences on the road with confidence.

Interested in finding out more about first time driver insurance? Contact Smartdriverclub today for a quote.