Seasonal changes require drivers to adjust their driving habits. Conditions demand extra caution as the sun sets earlier, the roads are wetter, and ice becomes a potential threat. To reduce the risk of an accident, consider the following safety tips to prepare for the fall weather.
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Watch Out for Slippery Conditions
While falling leaves are beautiful, they also are dangerous because they create slippery driving surfaces. Avoid braking on leaves to prevent sliding and losing control of the car. Fall rains add another factor to wet conditions by making the road extra slick. Oil and dirt, along with leaves, mix in with the rain and make for extremely slippery conditions.
Keep a safe traveling distance from the car in front of you. Big puddles from rain accumulation also increase the likelihood of hydroplaning. Avoid driving through these when possible. Fog adds another unsafe condition. Turn on car lights to ensure visibility to other drivers. As the season progresses, ice is a potential danger. Watch out for ice, especially on bridges, to avoid sliding where there’s little room for error.
Beware of Sun Glare
As the sun rises later and sets earlier, sun glare becomes an issue for drivers. The sun aligns with the horizon during this time and makes driving on east/west roadways difficult. Have a good pair of sunglasses in your car for these times. Use north/south roads with tree cover when possible to avoid staring straight into the sun.
Prepare for Darkness
The National Safety Council (NSC) says while only 25% of driving occurs at night, 50% of traffic deaths occur then. As days get shorter, darkness sets in earlier, making driving conditions more difficult, particularly for older drivers. The NSC says 50-year-old drivers need double the amount of light to see as well as a 30-year-old driver, and according to the American Optometric Association, those over 60 experience a decreased ability to see road signs clearly and to judge speed and distance from other cars.
Be Cautious of Animals
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says the likelihood of hitting a deer in the fall doubles and insurance claims for animal strike peak in November. Deer mate in November, so there are more of them active and moving around during this time. When driving through wooded areas especially where deer are likely to live, be alert and watch the sides of the road carefully in case any deer appear from the tree line. If a deer does run out, brake but don’t swerve to avoid hitting another car.
Check Your Vehicle
As temperatures drop, drivers should check their tire pressure. Tires lose 1-2 pounds of pressure for every 10 degrees the temperature drops. Fill tires to the recommended PSI to prevent any mishaps related to deflated tires. Replace windshield wipers if they’re old or performing poorly. Good wipers make for a clean window which helps when there’s sun glare. Ensure headlights are functioning properly. Headlights alert drivers that another car is approaching which is especially important in rainy and foggy conditions that compromise visibility.
Remember the Kids
As kids head back to school, some are not in the habit of looking before they cross a road. Children can also be unpredictable, running into the road without warning. Take extra caution when driving through school zones or near a school bus. Remember to stop when a bus stops, no matter which side of the road it’s on. Maintain good visibility, so you can see any kids crossing the road.
While we can’t prevent the change of the seasons, we can change our driving habits. Stay aware of your surroundings and adjust your driving speed for any inclement weather conditions. When everyone practices roadway safety, we can reduce the risk of accidents as fall and winter approach.