Are you heading out on the road for an autumnal trip in your home on wheels? Motorhome Protect shares what hazards to be aware of, some top tips to stay safe and how campervan insurance can help.
The nights are drawing in and temperatures are dropping – it’s the perfect time to head out on a cosy trip in your motorhome or campervan.
There’s so much to love about this time of year, with the leaves changing to gorgeous warm hues and the shiny first morning frost glistening in the early sunlight.
With all the picturesque sights and snug moments by campfire come new hazards on our roads, which can pose a high risk to holidaymakers in large vehicles.
So, what can you do to stay safe?
Read through our list of autumnal road hazards and use our tips to keep you, other road users and your vehicle out of harm's way.
While you can do everything in your power to protect your home on wheels, accidents can still happen. Make sure you look out for your trusty vehicle with motorhome or campervan insurance to protect it against damage and theft.
AUTUMN DRIVING HAZARDS TO BE AWARE OF
Every season in the UK comes with different hazards to road users. Darker days, wet weather, and even old wiper blades can all cause accidents, making it important for drivers of large vehicles to remain on high alert during autumn.
Check your motorhome or campervan insurance is up to date to protect your home on wheels in case of damage and pay attention to the following hazards to stay safe:
- Wet weather
- Driving in the dark
- Colder mornings
- Icy roads
- More animals
- Old wiper blades
How do these risks make driving in autumn hazardous? We take a closer look at each one below and give you some tips to remain safe on our roads.
According to the Met Office, weather in autumn can be unsettled and storms and strong gales are common across the UK.
It’s not unusual to get caught in a passing shower or heavy downpour when you’re behind the wheel in your motorhome, posing a hazard to you and others on the road.
The rainwater mixes with dirt, oil and grime on the road’s surface, making it slippery. If you need to brake suddenly, it will take longer to stop and could see you claiming on your campervan insurance if you don’t give yourself enough room to slow down safely.
Wet leaves can be just as dangerous as a big puddle, and there might even be a pothole hiding beneath a large pile, so slow down as you approach.
Dazzle from the sun
If you’re going on a trip in your motorhome or camper this autumn, you may need to leave home a little earlier to allow yourself to go at a slower speed.
During the day, the sun can sit quite low in the sky, making it hard to see when you’re driving. Use the visors and keep a pair of sunglasses in your vehicle to reduce the dazzle and slow down if your sight is affected by the glare.
The days get shorter quickly during the autumn months, so your vehicle needs to be ready for driving in the dark.
Ask someone to check your motorhome’s headlights, brake lights, and indicators while you test them out in your stationary vehicle.
Keep an extra keen eye out for pedestrians, cyclists and runners and lower your speed after dusk to avoid accidents.
Chilly early mornings
If you like to leave early for trips in your home on wheels, you’ll be more than familiar with the chill at this time of day!
One of the biggest hazards to driving in your large vehicle is an icy windscreen. Make sure you keep de-icing spray and a scraper in your camper and check your antifreeze is well topped up.
Ice on the road
You might be thinking icy roads are more of a winter kind of problem, but later autumn mornings can produce similar conditions.
As large motorhomes and campervans take longer to slow down, it’s crucial you take corners gently and don’t accelerate or brake suddenly.
Nothing reduces your view of the road as much as thick fog, and it tends to fall quickly during this time of year.
If you suddenly find yourself driving through fog, slow down, turn on your lights, and keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
When you reach a junction, lower your window to listen for approaching traffic if visibility is highly affected.
Have you ever had a run in with a deer in your motorhome? Not only does it do a lot of damage to the animal, but you’ll likely be putting in a large claim on your campervan insurance, thanks to the huge dent in the side of your vehicle!
According to Gov.uk, the changing clocks in October mean peak commuting hours coincide with deer movement. The website provides a few tips to keep you and your vehicle unharmed around autumn wildlife:
- Check your speed and stay alert when you see deer warning signs.
- Use full beams when possible but dip them if you see an animal to stop it from ‘freezing.’
- If you see one deer, be aware that more will likely follow.
- Always be alert and ready to stop. It’s better to come to a halt than swerve around the animal only to hit an oncoming car or obstacle.
- Turn on your hazard lights if you pull over after an accident.
- Contact the police, your motorhome or campervan insurance provider, your breakdown service and the RSPCA if the animal is injured.
Worn out wiper blades
The rapidly changing weather in the UK can take its toll on your windscreen wipers, putting you at risk when it rains, and you can’t clear the water away properly.
To check if it's time to replace your wipers, turn them on and listen for a squeak. If they make a sound when they move back and forth, it’s time for new ones.
AUTUMN DRIVING HAZARDS TO BE AWARE OF
When you get behind the wheel of a large campervan or motorhome, you need to be extra cautious. These vehicles take longer to slow down and require more care when turning corners and manoeuvring.
How can you make sure you stay safe during an autumn getaway and avoid claiming on your motorhome or campervan insurance? We share our top tips below.
Check your vehicle is autumn road-worthy
Use the squeaking test mentioned above to check your wipers are in good condition and make sure your washer fluid is topped up.
Get your tyres checked – the legal minimum tyre tread depth may be 1.6mm but as National Tyres points out, careful drivers don’t leave it that long. They change tyres when the tread drops to between 2-3mm. If they’re worn out, it poses a big risk on slippery roads and your large vehicle won’t cope.
Cold and wet weather can also mean more electrical issues for batteries and spark plugs. Take your camper to a mechanic for an assessment to make sure everything is working as it should.
Keep an eye on your battery
The colder months put more strain on your car’s battery, as you’re more likely to use your:
Not sure how to tell your battery might be on its way out? If your lights look dim or your motor sounds a little sluggish, it’s time for a replacement.
Check for clogged inlets
The warm colour of autumn leaves might make you feel snug when curled up inside your motorhome, but they can cause havoc when they start to fall.
If leaves enter your air inlets, it can make your engine overheat, so check under your bonnet and remove any that may be clogging the system. Make sure you take any out from around your wipers, too.
Keep the essentials in your vehicle
To be prepared for an emergency and to beat the frost on those chilly mornings, there are a few items you should always have handy inside your motorhome or campervan:
- Ice scraper
- Fuel can
- Jump start cables
- High-vis jacket
- Reflective warning sign
- First aid kit
- Phone charger
- UK road map
Take care when driving
We’ve already mentioned how more rain can cause the roads to become extra slippery and that fallen leaves can easily hide potholes and dips.
Make sure you give yourself enough time to reach your destination by going a little slower than normal in wet conditions and reducing your speed more for corners.
When driving on busy roads, double the distance between you and the vehicle in front – large, heavy vehicles take longer to come to a stop.
Keep an eye out for children
If you plan to leave early in the morning or are going to be driving through towns mid-afternoon, be extra vigilant of children heading to and from school.
With darker skies, it can be more difficult to see if children are nearby, especially if they rush out on scooters or bikes.
Make sure you stick to the speed limit around schools to allow yourself enough time to stop if you need to.
Prepare your journey with stops
If you’re going to be travelling for a few hours, make sure you factor in some stops along the way. This gives you time to rest and recuperate to remain focused on the road. Fill up on petrol, food, coffee, or whatever else helps you stay alert.
If possible, take turns driving with someone else. Don’t forget to make sure you name all drivers on your motorhome or campervan insurance.
Consider a motorhome manoeuvring course
If you’re worried about hitting the road in your large vehicle this autumn, a manoeuvring course can help build your confidence while teaching you how to drive safely. A one-day course:
- Provides a combination of classroom sessions and practical elements.
- Teaches you how to reverse and manoeuvre confidently.
- Shows you how to safely load your vehicle before setting off.
- Includes a one-to-one driving lesson with a specialist who will tell you how you’re doing and give you some invaluable tips to improve.
You don’t need to be a new camper or motorhome owner to take the course either. Experienced drivers can also use it to brush up on their skills.
Don’t get distracted
There’s no shortage of festivities during autumn, and that means lots of fireworks between Halloween and the 5th of November.
While watching the explosions light up the night’s sky is exciting, don’t let them draw your eyes away from the road. If you want to watch the fireworks, pull over to keep you and other road users safe.
On Halloween, there will be plenty of trick-or-treaters out and about, and often in dark coloured costumes. Be extra alert of little ghouls and witches if you plan on driving during the evening of 31st October!
WHERE TO TAKE YOUR CAMPERVAN OR MOTORHOME IN AUTUMN
There’s no shortage of gorgeous UK destinations to visit in your home on wheels during autumn.
If you’re finding the immense choice overwhelming, perhaps our top selections can help you pick the perfect getaway.
You can’t get much more scenic than this World Heritage site for an autumn road trip. Hike up England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, visit Beatrix Potter’s house, or simply enjoy the fantastic landscape.
There are stunning campsites galore in the Lake District and lots of trails for walks and cycling throughout the region.
This incredible landscape sees campervan and motorhome owners return year after year to enjoy the plethora of flora and fauna during autumn.
With the idyllic warm-coloured scenery, try and spot a monster at Loch Ness or enjoy sampling Scottish flavours in whiskey distilleries and local restaurants.
Forests across the UK are some of the most idyllic spots for an autumn getaway. One of the best places to enjoy the warm hues of leaves and amazing wildlife is the New Forest in Hampshire.
Spend your days watching wild horses roaming, visiting cosy villages, and touring epic castles in the middle of this wondrous landscape.
Head down to the southwest to see a guaranteed explosion of autumn colours at the Westonbirt Arboretum.
With 600 acres of woodland to explore and 16,000 trees to admire, this is the perfect place for a nature lover to ramble. Just make sure your home on wheels is protected by campervan insurance while you’re enjoying the views.
See the beautiful seasonal colours reflected in the water on the Kennet and Avon canal in Wiltshire. Don’t miss a trip to the Avoncliff Aqueduct where you can take in the breath-taking views of the Bath Valley in autumn.
With cosy country pubs along the way, this is a great place for an autumnal dog walk and with cosy pubs nestled along the route, you’ll have somewhere to leave your camper while you go exploring.
WHAT TO PACK FOR AN AUTUMN TRIP IN YOUR MOTORHOME OR CAMPERVAN
Your autumnal road trip is getting closer and it’s time to pack your bags and vehicle. There’s nothing worse than getting to your destination only to realise you’ve left something at home – especially your cosy slippers or snug blanket for those chilly autumnal evenings.
What’s the best way to make sure no item gets left behind? By checking them off as you go on the packing list below:
- Driving licence
- Vehicle documents
- Proof of campervan insurance
- Breakdown service details
- Emergency contact list
- Toll badges
- Spare keys
- Debit and credit cards
- Cash (small change for toll roads)
- Mobile phone and charger
- Food and snacks
- First aid kit
- Medicine and painkillers
- Toilet paper
- Padded coat
- Warm hat
- Thick socks
- Cosy pyjamas
- Hiking boots
- Fleece blankets
- Hot water bottle
- Heat pads
- Small heater
If you’re taking the kids with you, make sure you pack plenty of games and snacks to keep them busy and nice and full. If the weather is extremely cold, there won’t be many chances for them to play outside, so board games and a tablet with some films on are ideal.
Do you take your dog on camping trips? Don’t forget all your four-legged friend’s essentials like lead, bowls, poo bags, toys and treats. You’ll also need an old towel to wipe wet and muddy paws before they ruin your campervan interior.
Make sure your campervan or motorhome is well-stocked with food for the trip and plenty of tea, coffee and hot chocolate to keep you warm.
It’s a good idea to check you have fresh bedding, cleaning items, and all the other kitchen, bathroom and vehicle essentials on board before setting off, too.
PRE-TRIP CHECKLIST FOR AUTUMN
You’re feeling confident on the road and are ready to set off on your autumn camping trip, but have you got everything ready?
After you’ve double-checked your packing list and made sure that your campervan insurance is up to date, here’s what to check on your vehicle.
Inside your vehicle
- Lock all windows, doors, and rooflights
- Stow hook-up lead and water hose
- Stow all loose items inside securely
- Lock cupboards and drawers
- Turn off the gas
- Lock the fridge door and make sure it’s on 12V
- Check the control panel
Outside your vehicle
- Check for obstacles around and under your vehicle
- Fully retract the awning
- Secure bikes and other equipment safely
- Lift the entry steps and lock exterior access door
- Lower and secure elevating roof on campervans
For driving on the road
- Check fluids under the bonnet
- Check tyre pressure and wear
- Check lights
- Check wipers
- Check for leaves and debris
- Adjust mirrors
- Programme the sat nav
- Check oil, temperature, and fuel gauge
PROTECT YOUR VEHICLE WITH INSURANCE
Driving your large vehicle in autumn comes with hazards, but you can reduce the risk to you and other road users by using our helpful tips above.
Despite doing everything you can to stay safe on UK roads, accidents can still happen when you least expect it.
Your home on wheels is a big investment and making sure you have appropriate motorhome or campervan insurance to protect it against damage is essential.
Motorhome Protect can help you find the ideal policy for your needs and budget that includes:
- Up to £3,000 cover for your personal effects
- Up to £120,000 cover for your vehicle
- Unlimited mileage cover
- Special offers for club members
- Consideration of previous claims and convictions
Make your autumn trip as safe as possible by contacting Motorhome Protect for a quote today.