Fall is a pleasant time of year. It brings cool but not cold temperatures, colorful foliage, and the anticipation of the upcoming winter holidays. It also brings some unique road hazards. Here’s what to be mindful of when driving during fall.
Changes in the Weather
You may think of winter as the most dangerous time of the year to drive but fall also presents certain hazards as the season’s first rains, fog, and morning frost make an appearance. To stay safe, you need to adjust your driving habits. Turn on headlights in bad weather, slow down, and keep a safe following distance. Fall is a good time to prep your car for winter. As the weather cools, tire pressure tends to decrease. Under-inflated tires can overheat while driving and result in a blowout. Take your car for a tune-up to check the wiper blades, brakes, and tires.
It Gets Dark Earlier
On November 3, 2019, the clocks turn back. That means sunset will arrive an hour earlier. It’s time to turn your car lights on earlier and drive a little slower. If you are nearsighted or have other vision-related problems, like night blindness, have your eyes tested at the start of fall. Poor night vision can affect depth perception, color contrast, and the glare from streetlights and oncoming headlights can compromise your vision. Night vision also deteriorates as you get older. If you find it difficult to drive at night, try to avoid it as much as you can.
As pretty as the fall leaves are, they can wreak havoc on roads. When it rains, wet leaves on the roadway are almost as dangerous as ice. Your car’s tires can’t properly grip the road when driving on wet leaves. This can cause the vehicle to go into a dangerous slide and regaining control of the car can be difficult on slippery leaves. When a road is covered with leaves, slow down but don’t slam on the brakes.
School is Back
School starts as summer starts to roll into fall. This means school buses are back on the road and school zones are busy. Kids can be unpredictable. Watch out for children boarding and exiting buses and crossing streets, and follow the rules that govern driving in school zones and near school buses.
On Halloween, excited children take to the streets for a night of trick-or-treating. Their minds are on the bounty of candy they hope to bag, not road safety. In the U.S., Halloween is one of the deadliest nights of the year for kids. The number of children killed in car-related accidents doubles on Halloween. At night, if kids are wearing dark-colored costumes you won’t easily see them running into a road. Be vigilant when driving on Halloween!
Deer season runs from October through December. It’s mating season, hunters are out, and deer are on the move more than any other time of year. Many find their way on to roads and highways and the result is an increase in deer-vehicle collisions. State Farm reports that around 1.33 million animal collisions took place between July 2017 and June 2018. If you live in an area with a large deer population, drive carefully, especially at dawn and dusk. Many unsuspecting motorists have collided with a deer that suddenly jumped in front of their car.
Many road dangers can be avoided with defensive driving skills. Take a defensive driving course that will teach you critical driving techniques that can help prevent a serious road accident this fall.