Fall weather can be erratic with temperature fluctuations and conditions often changing by the hour. Preparation is key to safe driving during the Autumn season.
With all of the beauty and festivity that Fall brings each year, this season also comes with its own unique driving risks. Slippery roads, decreased daylight, fog and sun glare are to be expected. Autumn weather conditions can change quickly.
Here’s how to plan and prepare for all that this season brings to the road.
The Nights are Longer…
As the days get shorter, you will likely be driving in the dark a lot more.
- Keep your headlights clean and in proper working order; dim or misaligned headlights can decrease your visibility. Never drive faster than your headlights can illuminate your way.
- Pedestrians walking, jogging or biking through the streets may be more difficult to see, especially if they are wearing dark clothing.
- School is in session so use caution and be mindful of children walking to and from bus stops in the early morning.
- Seasonal animal behaviors create moving obstacles for drivers, especially at night. There is increased wildlife activity on the roads with small animals like squirrels busy storing food for winter, and large animals like deer, boar and moose out looking for mates. Be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to wildlife crossing signs. Slow down in areas wildlife is known to frequent.
Cooler temperatures bring frost, ice, and even early snow to the roads
- Fall weather can change rapidly from warm to cold, causing roads to ice. Be on the lookout for black ice and remember to drive slowly and brake gently on bridges and overpasses as these surfaces tend to frost over before others.
- Check your tire pressure daily. Extreme changes may lead to a loss of tire pressure causing your tires to become less stable and lose their grip and traction.
- Before starting your vehicle, scrape away any frost on your windows and check to see that your defrosters are working properly.
Driving in Fog
With cold autumn mornings often comes fog.
- Driving in foggy weather can be disorienting and dangerous. When you encounter fog, set your headlights to low even though it may be counter intuitive. Low beams aim down toward the road and improve visibility. High beams on the other hand, bounce off of fog and reflect back at you, further impairing your ability to see the road.
- Slow down and leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you so that you have ample time to stop if necessary.
- If the fog is especially dense and your visibility is severely reduced, it may be better to pull of the road and wait it out. Pull a safe distance off the road and turn on your hazard lights as other drivers may not see you. Call your dispatcher, they will help you stay safe.
Autumn’s sunrises and sunsets can cause a large amount of glare, making it difficult to see other vehicles, pedestrians, traffic lights or the road.
- Be mindful of the time of day. Sun glare tends to be the worst in the early morning and late afternoon. …
- A clean windshield inside and out is a priority. Grime, streaks and smudges can become magnified when the sun hits your windshield making it even more difficult to see.
- Keep a pair of sunglasses in your vehicle at all times to help deal with the glare of that strong sunshine. If you frequently drive at night, consider anti-glare polarized glasses to reduce that blinding sensation from oncoming headlights.
- Slow down and leave more room. Your visibility and reaction time will decrease due to glare, so it’s important to give yourself a greater gap to react.
Fall often brings increased rainfall, which creates the danger of wet leaves, an experience like driving on ice.
- Large amounts of wet leaves make roads slippery and cover up potholes, road bumps, and ice which can lead to accidents. Slow down in wooded areas after a rain shower to avoid hydroplaning.
- Before starting your car, remove any leaves from your windshield to prevent them from getting stuck under your wiper blades. Also, be sure to replace your windshield wiper blades if they show signs of wear.
- When driving during heavy rain, slow down, especially around turns. Wet conditions increase the time it takes your vehicle to come to a complete stop, so keep a good distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- Avoid sudden movements with the steering wheel or slamming on the brakes, as this can cause you to hydroplane. If you feel that you are losing control of your vehicle, steer straight and gently release the gas pedal until you feel the tires make contact with the road surface again.