AA Charitable Trust

Majority of drivers have autumnal pet hates

A Charitable Trust research shows October and November two of most dangerous months for young, rural drivers

25 October 2021

As the leaves fall from trees and the nights grow longer, new research by the AA Charitable Trust shows only 3% of drivers have no gripes with driving in autumn*.

The survey found half of drivers say they hate it when other drivers forget to use their headlights or misuse them in the dark (50%). Older people were most likely to dislike driving in the dazzling low sun in autumn (82% 65+).

Young drivers were the most likely to say defrosting their windscreen and windows is the worst part of autumn driving (55% 18-24s) and also struggled more than any other age group with driving on roads with surface water. Two in five younger drivers also said they hate navigating puddles and surface water, compared to the national average of one in four (40% vs 24%).

Four in five women said they hate driving in autumn sunlight (81% vs 74% men); but men were more likely to find other drivers misusing their headlights the biggest problem in autumn (52% men vs 45% women).

Geographically, drivers in Wales (79%) and Yorkshire and Humberside (78%) were most likely to say they dislike sun glare in autumn the most. Drivers in Northern Ireland were the most likely to hate other drivers not using their lights properly (55%) but drivers in the North East of England were least likely to mind (42%).

Sunset on the motorway

The top five biggest autumnal driving pet hates:
  • Dazzle from the sun when low in the sky (76%)
  • Other drivers not using their lights properly (50%)
  • Inconspicuous pedestrians and cyclists (49%)
  • Fog (40%)
  • Other cars with defective lights (39%)
Autumnal risks to vulnerable road users

Research from the AA Charitable Trust’s latest campaign, ‘Young, Rural Drivers’, shows October and November are two of the riskiest months for young drivers on rural roads.

The research, which analysed more than 70,000 crashes over 6 years, showed more fatal crashes happed in October and November (141 each) than any other months.

The clocks go back this month and with it brings even more seasonal hazards on the roads.
Edmund King, AA Charitable Trust Director

Data from the research has been used to create an interactive map which drivers can use to see which rural roads near them are the riskiest for young drivers.

New government road crash data also shows the autumnal risk of dazzling sun has doubled as a contributory factor in motorbike crashes and trebled for cyclist crashes in 2020.

In 2019, dazzling sun to drivers was a contributory factor in just under 5% of fatal pedal cyclist crashes but this rose to 15% in 2020. For fatal motorbike crashes it rose from just under 2% to 4%.

Edmund King, AA Charitable Trust Director, said: “The clocks go back this month and with it brings even more seasonal hazards on the roads.

“Data from our recent Young Rural Drivers campaign, as well as the latest government road crash statistics shows these months, and the hazards they bring, pose particular risks to vulnerable road users such as young drivers, cyclists and motorcyclists. “Dazzling sun, misuse of headlights and poor visibility can be challenging for experienced drivers, but for those who are new to the roads they can be particularly difficult to navigate safely.

“The sudden leap in the number of cyclists and bikers who were killed in crashes where a contributory factor was drivers dazzled by the sun is concerning. As the clocks change and daylight fades, it is a timely reminder to always check twice for those on two wheels – especially at this time of year when they sun can block our vision.”

The AA has been named Which? Recommended Provider for four years running. Learn more on theaa.com.

Read more AA driving advice for autumn: www.theaa.com/driving-advice/seasonal/autumn

*AA-Yonder survey of 14,467 members between 10th – 21st September 2021. Yonder is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.