Summer’s ending, which means fall is just around the corner. We don’t typically think of fall as a treacherous season to drive—normally we reserve extra care for winter and maybe summer if we’re talking traffic—but just like any other time of the year with the right (or wrong) weather conditions and mixture of drivers on the road, it can be. Here are five tips for safe, defensive driving in the fall:
- Prepare for shorter days.
Days start getting shorter in the fall and that means fewer hours of daylight—while some parents may change their rules for how late their kids are allowed to stay out because of that, some may not and it’ll be up to you to be careful of kids playing outside or riding their bikes while it’s getting dark. It’s more difficult to see people—children, adults walking dogs, etc.—at dusk, so it’s important to go the speed limit or a little slower and pay attention to your surroundings. The same rule goes for watching out for children at their morning bus stops and during Halloween where kids may be out and about in dark costumes that may not be easy to see.
Watch the changing weather conditions.
Fall is normally a pretty rainy or foggy season, which makes roads slick and creates frost on the ground through the night as temperatures drop. When roads are frosty, drive slowly and brake gently on overpasses and bridges, as these areas freeze more quickly. Be wary of areas where black ice is prone to forming. When faced with fog, set your headlights to low beam—this aims the beam of light down toward the roadway instead of projecting it straight out where it’ll reflect off the fog.
Properly maintenance your vehicle.
Maintaining your vehicle regularly (or at the very least checking it) is necessary all the time, but particularly when weather conditions make driving tricky. Keep your headlights clean, properly aligned, and working. Replace your windshield wiper blades once they start to get worn and keep an emergency car safety kit in your vehicle at all times.
Be mindful of leaves on roads.
Leaves may not seem like a big deal—especially in something as robust as a car—but when wet leaves accumulate on roadways, they can get extremely slippery and make driving conditions similar to driving on ice. In fact, with the dropping temperatures autumn brings, it’s easy for those wet leaves to solidify into a layer of ice as well. These instances can cause the car to lose traction, skid, and may cause you to lose control of the vehicle. Leaves also may be obscuring road markings, which might make it difficult to discern the perimeters of lanes.
If you’re driving on a road covered with leaves, slow down and allow yourself substantial room between yourself and other vehicles for an emergency stop. Watch for potholes and bumps in the road that may be obscured by leaves and also watch out for kids playing or hiding in leaves near the road—for that reason, never drive through a leaf pile and always use caution around turns where children may be playing. Keep your windshield leaf-free to keep wet leaves from getting stuck under your wiper blades and never park your vehicle over a pile of leaves—a pile of leaves is a fire hazard near an exhaust system or catalytic converter.
Keep a lookout for other distractions and dangers.
Even when it’s a mild day without a lot of activity from pedestrians, you still need to be prepared. Always keep a pair of sunglasses in your car—fall sunrises and sunsets can be more intense than other times of the year and can create significant glare, which makes it difficult to see other vehicles and the markings and edges of the road. Additionally, if you live in an area where there are a lot of deer, they are more likely to run into the road around dawn and dusk in the fall. Proceed slowly and carefully if you see a deer cross a road, as they often travel in groups and does may have their fawn(s) with them.
Stay safe and enjoy the beautiful fall weather coming up! If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact Boughter Sinak today for a free evaluation.