Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of the year. The leaves on the trees turn brilliant hues of red, orange, yellow, and gold. The night air starts getting crisp. The sun begins sinking low on the horizon, casting long shadows at all hours of the day. It’s a splendid time to hop in the car and take a road trip to watch Mother Nature do her thing – as long as you practice fall driving safety tips.
Every season has its own weather patterns that can affect road conditions, and fall is no different. So, it’s time to adjust your driving patterns in accordance with changes in the weather. The fall season also means back to school for students, which entails more traffic on the road and more pedestrians next to the road.
Keeping the following fall driving safety tips top of mind will help ensure you reach your destination safely every time you get behind the wheel.
Fall Season Safety Driving Tips: Weather Conditions
Be prepared for unpredictable weather.
When the days get shorter and temperatures drop, the weather will change. This, in turn, will affect driving conditions no matter where you live. Yet, fall can offer many different weather patterns until the consistency of winter sets in. From increased rain to morning fog, high winds, and more, shifting conditions can make the roads more dangerous to drive on. Watch out for these fall conditions:
Wet weather is a time to slow down and take it easy on the road. It’s never a good idea to follow the car in front of you too closely – even more so when the rains fall. If you live in an area with dry summers, the first rain of fall can be especially dangerous. Water can pool on top of dust, and oil that has soaked into the pavement can be released, making the streets slick and slippery. Fall driving safety tips: give yourself an extra car length or two to increase your safety zone. Make sure your windshield wipers work well, which means they clear the water off your windshield with streaking or smearing. If they’re old, replace them before the rains hit.
Fog occurs when warm, moist air meets cold air. This frequently occurs in the fall when cold night air meets air heated up by the sun’s rays in the morning. Fog is commonly found in low areas and places surrounded by hills, water, mountains, and trees. Fall driving safety tips: in foggy conditions, slow down and keep your headlights on low beam. Don’t use your high-beams because that will further reduce visibility by reflecting light back at you. As with rain, give yourself extra distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
It may seem hard to believe that a few dead leaves can pose a threat to cars and trucks. But, when the road gets thick with them, the surface can become slick, especially for cars with low-tread or bald tires. Large amounts of leaves can also hide traffic lines and other pavement markings, as well as potholes and other road hazards.
When it rains, some types of wet leaves can make the road very slick. The fall season safety driving tip here is to slow down, try to avoid making sudden turns, and give yourself a little extra time to brake at stop signs and intersections.
During the fall, temperatures can drop rapidly during the night, producing ideal conditions for morning frost on your windshield and icy spots on the road. Fall driving safety tip: keep a scraper in the car to remove frost on the windshield, and drive slower and with caution in areas prone to ice buildup on the road, such as bridges, overpasses, and parts of the road that are shaded.
Because the sun sits lower in the sky, fall tends to produce more sun glare than during summer when the sun is directly above. The first half hour or so before sunset and after sunrise are particularly prone to sun glare. When the sun hits directly in your eyes, it can cause temporary blindness. Even if it only lasts a few seconds, it’s plenty of time to cause an accident. Sun glare can also make it hard to see traffic lights, stop signs and other road signage. Fall season safety driving tip: keep a pair of sunglasses in the glove compartment and keep your windshield clean.
Other Fall Driving Safety Tips
Weather is not the only driving hazard to stay alert to in the fall.
Check your tire pressure
Fall weather has a tendency to change from warm to cold and back again. This can cause your car’s tires to expand and contract, which can also cause a loss of pressure. Fall driving safety tip: tire pressure should be checked once a month throughout the year. During fall, check it every time you fill up for gas.
Watch out for wildlife.
Fall is the mating and migrating season for deer and other wild animals, which means they are more active and less likely to be paying attention to cars on the road. If you live in a state with high rates of deer collisions slow down at “deer crossing” signs and keep an eye out in other areas where deer are known to frequent. Also, watch out for smaller critters who tend to be active gathering food for the winter. Fall driving safety tips: If you encounter a deer or other animal in the road or looking like they’re about to cross it, slow down and tap your brakes. This will let the car behind you know you’re reducing speed. If it’s nighttime, flash your high beams several times. This may encourage the animal to get out of the road. If not, and the road is clear of oncoming cars, slowly move to the left or right to go around the animal. Finally, keep an eye out for other animals, as many types of wildlife travel in groups.
Use caution during back-to-school traffic
School in session means more cars and buses on the road twice a day, and more kids walking and riding bikes to and from school. Always obey speed limits in school zones. Give buses the right of way, and be sure to come to a complete stop behind a school bus when it’s dropping off children. Most important fall season safety driving tip: regarding school traffic: never engage in distracted driving – brushing your hair, eating breakfast, using your cell phone, etc. – in school zones.
Whether it’s fall, winter, spring or summer, when you need safe, professional auto body repairs, Fix Auto is the place to go. Find the Fix Auto repair shop nearest you.