Being a safe driver is essential all year round. But for those who live where the seasons change drastically, there are even more driving tips worth knowing. Staying safe behind the wheel means being ready for different driving hazards that come with each changing season. As we head into the later months of the year, these are the fall driving hazards you can be mindful of, along with suggestions to help you stay safe on the road.
1. Rain and wet leaves
Trees and foliage change during the fall months. It can create a beautiful environment, but can also prove to be hazardous. Leaves fall in droves, and gusting winds can pile them dangerously along roadways.
Fall also means cold and rainy weather. This coupled with the layers of dead leaves and rain, can make vehicle tires not grip the pavement as intended. Fall driving accidents occur when cars traveling too fast for these conditions attempt to slow or stop and don’t have the gripping power.
To avoid these fall driving hazards, travel at slower speeds and steer clear of leaf piles if possible. As Erie Insurance suggests, fall is a ideal time to have your tire tread checked or even replaced.
2. Deer collisions
Another fall driving hazard involves deer collisions. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation warns motorists that fall marks the beginning of deer breeding season. Deer move beyond their traditional comfort zones between October and January. They pay less attention to their surroundings and grow bolder in their travels. Harvesting farmers flush deer out of fields, and hunting seasons also spark movement.
Conservationists warn motorists that deer are primarily nocturnal feeders, meaning they become more active between sunset and sunrise. Slow down in areas marked by deer crossing signs and on wood-lined roads. Remember that deer usually travel in small groups. So, if you spot one, another is likely behind it. Use your high beams for better visibility and travel at slower speeds so you can stop quickly.
3. Earlier sunsets and visibility
During the fall season, the days grow shorter, presenting drivers with more dusky and nighttime driving. The decreased visibility during earlier sunsets and night driving increases the risk of accidents. This reminds motorists to check their headlights to ensure proper operation.
Fog in the morning is also prevalent, decreasing visibility. Dusk sun glare can even impact how well you see, so be mindful. Be prepared for slower traffic, and keep your sunglasses handy. Avoid high beams during those foggy morning drives, wear your seatbelt, and turn on your lights when driving at dawn and dusk.
4. School children present significant fall driving hazards
Drivers should also be mindful of another fall driving hazard: school children. Back-to-school season means kids will be coming out in droves, traveling to and from school. Pay extra attention to crosswalks, school buses, and children walking home in the afternoon. There may be more kids on bikes as well.
Despite their best intentions, kids aren’t always paying attention to their surroundings, meaning they could accidentally walk out in front of you or try to cross without looking. As a motorist, you should be extra cautious during school hours of early morning and mid-afternoon. It may even warrant finding a new route to avoid the potential risks.
As we head into fall, be mindful of these potential hazards. Take the steps you can to prepare for a safer fall driving season.