Ah, fall! The air turns crisp, the leaves change colors, and everything feels just a little cozier, especially following the summer’s relentless heat. But while the season brings with it a lot of beauty, it also presents unique challenges for drivers. Whether it’s wet leaves on the road or roaming deer, you’ll need to adjust your driving habits. Below are some key considerations to keep you, your car, and everyone around you safe as you navigate the roads this fall.
The Slippery Truth About Wet Leaves
You’ve probably heard it a hundred times—wet leaves can be just as dangerous as ice on the road. It’s true; wet leaves can seriously reduce your car’s traction. Always slow down when driving over large patches of leaves and increase your following distance. If you happen to skid, stay calm. Don’t slam on the brakes; steer in the direction you want to go while releasing the gas pedal.
Hidden Dangers: Camouflaged Potholes and More
Fall foliage may offer a stunning backdrop, but when those leaves fall onto the roadway, they can camouflage potholes, road debris, and even curbs. Slow down so you don’t hit something that could damage your vehicle. Plus, avoid driving over large piles of leaves. Children and pets might be playing in them, hidden from view.
The Fire Risk of Dry Leaves
Don’t underestimate the fire hazards that leaves can pose. Dry leaves can ignite if they come into contact with the heat from your car’s exhaust system or catalytic converter. To keep this from happening, never park on a pile of leaves.
Caring for Your Car
Before you set off on a drive, check your car for accumulated leaves, especially in the nooks and crannies. Sap and acid from leaves can ruin your car’s paint. Also, leaves can clog up your ventilation system if they get under the hood. Use your hands to remove them to prevent scratching the paint. As an extra precaution, consider your parking choices. Try to avoid parking under trees whenever possible.
Changes in Lighting: Longer Nights Ahead
Fall signals the end of daylight-saving time, meaning you’ll likely spend more time driving in the dark. Adapt by maintaining a speed that allows you to stop within the range of your headlights. Speaking of headlights, make sure they’re clean and functioning well to improve your nighttime visibility.
Fog and Low Visibility
As the air gets cooler in the fall, you’re more likely to encounter fog while driving. If you find yourself in a foggy situation, it’s best to reduce your speed and switch on your low-beam headlights. If your car is equipped with fog lights, turn those on as well. Taking these steps will enhance your visibility and give you more time to respond to any road hazards.
Wildlife Alert: Deer on the Move
During fall, deer are particularly active due to their mating season, especially around sunrise and sunset. If you’re on a collision course with a deer, resist the urge to swerve. Your best bet is to brake strongly while keeping your car in its lane, which can help reduce potential damage and danger.
Don’t Forget About School Buses
School is back in session, which means buses are once again a common sight on the roads. Exercise extra caution around bus stops and always adhere to the speed limits. Make sure to follow the legal rules for stopping when a bus does, to ensure the safety of all.
Fall Driving Takeaways
Navigating the roads in the fall requires both alertness and adaptability due to its unique challenges, such as slippery leaves, concealed road hazards, and increased night driving. A bit of preparedness can significantly improve your driving experience, so keep these safety tips in mind as you set out to enjoy the seasonal scenery.
Rodrigues, S. (2022, October 5). Slippery leaves. Dark roads. Prepare for fall driving risks with 17 safety tips. News12.com
Carter, A. (2016, November 20). What to do if you’re about to hit a deer with your car. IndyStar
Photos under license from Adobe Stock.