Being an adaptable driver year-round keeps you safe on the road, so as the leaves change colors, so should your driving habits as you ready yourself to tackle upcoming fall driving hazards. Here are nine unique road hazards you should pay attention to during autumns drives.
Seasonal changes guarantee wetter weather. With it comes the increased risk of deep puddles and standing water on busy roadways that can cause you to lose control of your front wheels and steering capabilities. To help avoid hydroplaning, be aware of your speed at all times.
The risk of sun glare increases as the sun moves closer to the horizon at the end of summer. Light will be more likely to reflect off wet roads and other vehicles, impairing your line of sight. Never look directly into oncoming traffic lights to help combat this while on the road at night.
Darker Driving Conditions
The time change of fall also brings darker driving conditions much sooner than we’re used to after months of long summer days, so get used to being more cautious on the road after 5 PM. Try scheduling afternoon and evening commutes while there’s still a bit of light left.
Deer and Other Wildlife
If your area shares space with wildlife, the more dangerous your drive can be. Plenty of nocturnal animals, including deer, will venture out in the darker conditions to travel and find food. November is a peak mating time for deer, increasing the likelihood of hitting one even more than usual, so look out for signs of wildlife.
Falling foliage becomes a road hazard when it packs onto roads and freezes, causing patches for cars to miss and slide across. It can also be dangerous if autumn winds blow leaves onto potholes and obstruct their visibility, so be sure to treat slick piles of orange and yellow as warily as you would black ice. Additionally, leaf piles can not only obstruct road lines while you’re driving but also hide curbs and other boundaries while you’re parking. Children or small animals can also hide in piles of leaves while it’s light out, so take caution not to run through or back into leaf piles while driving near sidewalks.
Kids and fall equal back to school season, which means increased traffic in the early mornings and mid-afternoons. Be cautious of children walking to and from school in residential areas, and observe school zone speed changes at all times of the day, since you never know whether an after-school activity or outdoor recreation class will have kids suddenly crossing the streets.
As the temperature drops, the odds of finding frost on your car windows increases. Even during moderate temperatures where the frost will eventually melt during the day, this may not be the case for early morning commuters that hurry out of their house at the crack of dawn or those leaving somewhere several hours after midnight. Keep a snow/ice brush in your car at all times, even if the first snowfall hasn’t hit, make sure your windshield wipers are always working, and give yourself plenty of time before driving to take care of any unexpected ice. Take the time to warm up a car to avoid fog on your inside windshield.
Dropping Tire Pressure
Obsessing about your tire pressure is a year-round job, so instead of checking the pressure to see if it’s risen too much during the summer heat, you’ll have to check if it’s dropped too much with the lower temperatures. Proper pressure is required to have the adequate tire tread needed to tackle damp roads and driving conditions. Keep a handheld pressure gauge in your car, and if you have to stop and brush any frost from your windows on a colder day, it’s also worth checking your tire pressure at the same time.
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