How to Drive Your Motorhome During Autumn

Simple tips to make autumn driving a little easier

Planning an autumnal adventure in your motorhome or campervan? Let us provide valuable insights into the potential hazards to watch out for, essential safety tips, and the role of campervan insurance.

As the nights grow longer and temperatures start to decline, it's the ideal time to embark on a cosy journey in your motorhome or campervan. The enchanting transformation of leaves into warm hues and the captivating sparkle of the first morning frost create an irresistible ambiance.

However, amidst the breathtaking scenery and the joy of gathering around a campfire, it's important to be mindful of the new road hazards that can pose significant risks for travellers in larger vehicles.

So, how can you ensure a safe journey?

Explore our comprehensive list of autumnal road hazards and discover practical tips to protect yourself, fellow road users, and your precious vehicle from potential harm.

Autumn Driving Hazards to be Aware of

Each season in Ireland presents unique challenges for road users. As autumn arrives, darker days and wet weather conditions increase the likelihood of accidents. Even worn-out wiper blades can contribute to hazardous situations. Therefore, it is crucial for drivers of large vehicles to maintain a high level of vigilance during this time of year.

campervan driving autumn

To ensure comprehensive protection for your motorhome or campervan, verify that your insurance coverage is up to date and adequately covers any potential damages. Additionally, pay close attention to the following hazards in order to prioritise your safety:

- Old wiper blades

- Animals crossing roads

- Fog and mist

- Icy roads

- Colder mornings and evenings

- Driving in the dark

- Dazzle from the sun

- Wet weather

How to drive your motorhome safely in the dark

Nighttime driving can be challenging for many road users, including motorhome and campervan drivers. As we age, our night vision tends to decline, adding to the difficulty. Some motorhome drivers opt to avoid driving in the dark due to discomfort or lack of confidence. This is completely understandable. By carefully planning your route and allowing extra time for unexpected situations, it is feasible to cover long distances during daylight hours, ensuring a safe arrival at your desired destination. There, you can settle in for a cosy evening in your motorhome, as these vehicles are designed for stopovers along the way, and the journey itself is part of the adventure.

Regardless of whether you plan to drive at night or not, it is crucial for all drivers to have regular eye examinations by an optician. It's important to maintain an up to date prescription for glasses and/or contact lenses, ensuring the ability to read a car number plate from a distance of 20 metres.

Compared to typical family cars, motorhomes offer a raised driving position, which reduces the risk of being temporarily blinded by oncoming traffic headlights. However, it is advisable to avoid staring directly at the headlights of approaching vehicles, despite the advantage of height. On top of this, motorhomes have an advantage over cars in that they are less prone to being blinded by the headlights of vehicles behind them.

To enhance visibility and ensure safety, remember to switch on your headlights well before sunset or when darkness sets in. While modern motorhomes and campervans may have automatic headlights, it's important to be ready to manually activate them in conditions where improved visibility is necessary, such as misty or foggy weather. When driving in the absence of oncoming or preceding vehicles, engage your "full beam" to illuminate a greater portion of the road ahead.

Ensure that the windows and windscreens of your motorhome are kept clean and free from smudges. This will enhance visibility during both daylight and nighttime travels. A smeared windscreen can cause glare from oncoming lights and distort your vision, making it challenging to identify vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists. If possible, dim the dashboard lights and satnav to reduce eye strain when driving in the dark.

While motorhomes may not be known for their high performance, it's crucial to exercise caution and adhere to speed limits when driving in the dark or on unfamiliar roads. Speeding puts added stress on both you and your motorhome, potentially leading to accidents or scrapes. When manoeuvring in low-light conditions, if it is safe to do so, consider asking a passenger to assist you in navigating tight spaces. This can go a long way in helping keep both you and your passengers safe.

As the outdoor temperature drops, the temptation to turn up the heating inside your motorhome while driving is understandable. However, it is advisable to maintain a comfortable temperature within your vehicle, ensuring proper air circulation without excessive heat. Excessive heat can induce drowsiness, so it's crucial to find the right balance. Additionally, it's important to plan for regular breaks. According to the Highway Code, it is recommended to take a minimum break of at least 15 minutes after every two hours of driving. If you have air conditioning or a heated screen, be prepared to use them to prevent your windscreen from misting up, especially when driving in adverse weather conditions.

Wet weather

Autumn weather can be unpredictable, with the weather reports highlighting the common occurrence of storms and strong gales across Ireland. However, this should in no way dissuade you from going on your trip.

While driving your motorhome, it's not uncommon to encounter passing showers or heavy downpours, creating hazards for both you and fellow road users.

wet weather driving in a motorhome

Rainwater combines with road debris, including dirt, oil, and grime, resulting in slippery road surfaces. Sudden braking requires more time to stop, and failure to maintain sufficient distance for safe deceleration may lead to an insurance claim on your campervan insurance.

It's important that you are aware of the dangers posed by wet leaves, which can be as treacherous as large puddles. Moreover, exercise caution as hidden potholes may lurk beneath leaf piles, prompting the need for reduced speed when approaching such areas.

See how to set up an internet connection for those wet days.

Dazzle from the sun

For your autumn motorhome or camper trip, it may be necessary to depart earlier than usual to accommodate a slower pace.

When driving during the day, be mindful of the sun's low position in the sky, as it can affect visibility. Use your visors and keep a pair of sunglasses handy in your vehicle to minimize glare and adjust your speed if the dazzling sunlight hinders your vision.

Test brakes before leaving & during the drive

As you embark on your autumn journey with your caravan or mobile home, you may need to readjust your body and mind to driving a heavier vehicle than you normally do. To familiarize yourself with the vehicle and the road conditions, it's advisable to test the brakes by driving a short distance, ensuring there are no vehicles behind you. Whenever possible, on a straight stretch of road and considering traffic conditions, periodically test the brakes, particularly when encountering changes in road conditions. However, always remember to check the rearview mirror and ensure no other vehicles are in close proximity before doing so.

See our guide of everything you need to do before starting your campervan journey!

Brake early and engage the clutch carefully

During autumn, it's crucial to exercise caution when you come across snow and ice on the road. Proper handling of the clutch and brake pedals is essential to prevent the motorhome or car/caravan combination from skidding or going off the road. When driving on slippery surfaces, shift gears smoothly to avoid wheel lock-up when engaging the clutch. Exercise extra care when making turns onto side streets, as they may not be cleared of snow or could be more slippery than the main road. The same caution applies to driving on bridges, as their surfaces tend to be colder and prone to freezing.

Be mindful that certain sections of the road, such as curves, hairpin bends, intersections, and the braking zone before traffic lights, can be icier and more slippery compared to other areas. Consequently, it's necessary to initiate braking earlier than you would during summer. If your vehicle is equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS), firmly apply the brake pedal to activate the system.

Want to go on a campervan adventure? Rent a campervan from Rambling Rover and see what the world has to offer!