Five things to remember when the clocks go back

Night, busy city traffic, time-lapsed to create headlight blur.

Published 9 April 2021
Last updated 12 April 2021

Five essential tips for avoiding accidents after the clocks go back. Find out how vehicle care, getting your lights on early and a full washer bottle can help keep you safe.


So, 28 October has been and gone. Did you remember to put your clocks back an hour? Or was it all done for you thanks to the magic of your smartphone, tablet or computer? I’m not asking because I’m desperate to hear that you were all late for college/work. No, I’m asking because there are good reasons for you to think about your driving now that the dark nights are drawing in. Oh and I fancied a chuckle, too …

Night moves

Stick around any place of work long enough and you’ll hear this phrase: ‘I hate this time of year. You arrive in darkness and leave in darkness.’

This, of course, is usually true – you cannot beat nature after all. What you can do, though, is make sure you get in your car carrying a little bit of extra knowledge of the conditions and how to drive in them.

A study published by the RAC Foundation in 2018 showed that the 14-day period after the autumn clock change sees an average of 278 more personal injury collisions. Or, to put it another way, there’ll be about 20 more road crashes per day in which someone is injured (RAC website article).

It seems that it’s not just the darker afternoons/evenings that are to blame either: the report suggests that the increase in poor weather is also a factor. For those reasons alone, it’s worth taking extra care on your daily commute – even if it costs you a few extra minutes at each end.

Things you dusk know

There’s lots of good advice around about driving when the weather changes and the clocks go back. In fact, you can find a whole load of good stuff right here on the Safe Driving for Life blog on driving at night. The truth is, though, that the essentials never change. Have a look at the following checklist and keep it in mind when you’re preparing to brave the dark mornings and evenings.

  1. Remember that safe driving is as much a state of mind as it is a manual skill. Make sure you stay alert to the actions of the other drivers and keep scanning ahead for hazards.
  2. If you’re driving as dusk falls (late afternoon), you’re likely to experience weak light and occasional glare from the setting sun. This can make colours – particularly the more neutral ones – difficult to see. Get your lights on early and leave a little extra braking distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front.
  3. Make sure that your vehicle is in tip-top condition. Check the tyre pressures, the oil and the coolant regularly. After all, the last thing you want to do is break down on any morning/night – let alone a dark, miserable one.
  4. Check your windscreen washer bottle is full. Autumnal roads have a habit of getting wet and muddy and spray from other vehicles can add additional muck into the mix.
  5. Time pressure can have a negative effect on your driving: the more you rush, the more you concentrate on getting to your destination as quickly, and not as safely, as you can. Make things easier on yourself by leaving a little bit earlier in the mornings and planning ahead in the evenings (for example, arranging after work activities that start later than usual). That way, you should buy yourself a bit of additional time if conditions are making the commute particularly challenging.

Where to find out more…

So that’s the core stuff, but what if you’re itching to learn more? Well, do not worry, we’ve got it all covered here at Safe Driving for Life. For mucho good advice about winter driving, we have a rather nifty miniguide (eBook featured on TSO Shop) for you to enjoy. If you fancy complimenting it with some more background about basic maintenance (ebook featured on TSO Shop), then, guess what, there’s also a miniguide on that important subject too!

For those of you after a longer read, check out The Official DVSA Guide to Better Driving and The Official DVSA Guide to Driving – the essential skills. They’re packed full of super-important advice, ranging from how to drive in all types of weather to driving at night – and a whole lot more in between.

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