Your Guide to Safe Fall Driving: Five Simple Tips

This is a picture of a road during the autumn season as the leaves are changing

Fall in Utah is beautiful! As September comes to an end and October begins, the leaves of the trees on the mountains start to change. These changes quickly spread down into the valleys making a gold, brown, orange, and red backdrop that is stunning to behold! This change in the foliage, as well as the lower temperatures,  makes for perfect weather for hiking, biking, and walking to see it all.

However, along with the changes that come with fall, there are accompanying shifts in the type of driving you need to do to stay safe. For example, the changing light conditions can make driving around sunset more difficult because the sun can get in the eyes of drivers. Similarly, falling leaves combined with rain can cause an unusually slick road causing the vehicle to slide.

1. Make Precautions For Changing Light Conditions

As summer comes to an end, light conditions change drastically. Whereas in summer, the sun’s light can stay around past 9:00 p.m., in the winter, the sun sets much earlier. This phenomenon can take some adjusting for everyone. Occasionally, there are accidents caused because people have the sun in their eyes. The sun can obstruct vision of road signs, pedestrians, or animals. When conditions are darker, it is harder to drive. An article on the AARP’s website reports that older persons generally have more difficulty seeing road signs clearly when light conditions are darker. Fall light conditions simply require more careful driving.

If you are having difficulty seeing late at night, some precautionary measures can be taken. For example, always keep your car’s windshield clear allowing full visibility. This tip includes maintaining the wipers in good condition and keeping washer fluid filled. Your headlights also need to be cleaned occasionally. Fall is the perfect time to clean them.

2. Beware Animals

Good drivers should always be aware of animal movement. As mentioned above, the light conditions will make them harder to see, but also, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, mule deer and other animals migrate primarily during the fall and spring seasons seeking out more suitable conditions. Because more and more animals are on the move, according to the U.S. Department of Transporation’s Federal Highway Administration, the number of accidents related to wildlife rises sharply in the months from mid-September to mid-December.

Fortunately, there are some places where you have a higher risk of hitting an animal than others. For example, usually, deer migration areas will be marked using the appropriate signs. Similarly, according to Traffic School Online, most animal-vehicle collisions happen on low-volume, high-speed rural roads. For example, a forested area is more likely to have animal populations.

3. Check Your Tire Pressure

As the weather begins to cool, the pressure in many people’s tires decreases. Many cars have a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). When your tire pressure is low, this light will illuminate on the dashboard. The symbol is circular in shape with the appearance of tread on the bottom. The middle of the shape has a large exclamation point. According to an article featured on Howstuffworks.com, for every 10-degree decrease in the outside temperature, your tire pressure will decrease 1-2 PSI (pounds per square inch, the unit measuring tire pressure). At times, this light will turn on in the morning when it is cold then disappear as the temperature warms during the day. Regardless, you should go in and get your tire pressure checked and filled.

Even if your car does not have this light indicating that your tire pressure is low, you will still want to get your tire pressure checked to be sure you are ready for fall. Low tire pressure can lead to many worrisome problems. For example, according to Car Talk.com, when tire pressure is low, the tire’s surface touches the ground more creating more friction. This not only prematurely wears your tires, but the tires could also overheat, leading to tread separation and a terrible accident. It is in your best interest to get your tire pressure checked.

4. Watch for Children

With the autumn season, school is back in session. As the days become shorter, and it gets darker earlier, the time when students are leaving school can be affected by light glare. As the sun lowers in the sky, the sun can get into motorists’ eyes, temporarily obscuring drivers’ views. When sun glare is an issue, slow down. The AAA Exchange website recommends using polarized sunglasses which can help reduce glare. Also, you should utilize your sun visor to see ahead of you. Driving with your headlights on can alert your presence to other drivers. You will especially want to slow down when you are approaching a school zone, even if you know that school is not in session.

5. Beware Wet Leaves

As the leaves change and fall, many of them end up in the road. As fall rains come, they make the leaves wet. This combination can cause a deadly driving hazard. According to The 21st‘s website, these leaves can be slippery and reduce the traction of your vehicle. The leaves can also cover the markings in the road which can be dangerous for drivers. When you are driving on the road with wet leaves, you need to increase your following distance. This action allows additional stopping time. Similarly, you might also want to slow down.

Making some simple driving alterations for the fall months can help keep you and others safe. As mentioned, the fall months present some unique challenges for drivers that differ from other seasons of the year. Every day, we see clients whose lives have been significantly changed by a devastating accident. We want to help you prevent such accidents. Over ninety percent of crashes are due to human error, meaning they could be avoided. If you have been affected by an accident because of another person’s recklessness, contact The Advocates Law Firm.

 

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