What are Helpful Safety Tips for Driving During the Fall Season?
September 29, 2020
Studies indicate that most adults in the United States spend eight to 10 hours a week behind the wheel. Motorists who are accustomed to driving may not pause to think about hazards that crop up as seasons change. When summer turns to fall, there are many things that drivers should consider before they go out on the road. Drivers who are prepared for the change in seasons can help avoid accidents. Staying alert and taking precautions can also put drivers in a stronger position to pursue a personal injury claim, should an accident occur that was due to another person’s negligence. The following paragraphs highlight important fall safety driving tips.
Respect the Darkness
Daylight Saving Time ends on November 1, 2020. After that, motorists will spend more time driving after dark, when traffic fatalities are more likely to occur. Nighttime driving hazards include:
- The glare of headlights from oncoming cars can temporarily blind drivers.
- Streetlight glare may impair vision.
- Peripheral vision and depth perception may be compromised in the dark.
- It is more difficult to distinguish colors when there is less light.
The effects of darkness are typically more pronounced in older drivers. An individual who is 60 years old may need twice as much light to see than a person half their age.
Watch for Children
In a typical year, school buses return to the roads in droves come fall. However, this school year is quite different, owing to the pandemic. Drivers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey may notice fewer buses this year, depending on the learning plan adopted by the local school districts. It is still important to be vigilant for children entering and exiting school buses that are on the road, especially in school zones. By law, cars must stop a safe distance behind a school bus if the stop-arm is extended, and the red lights are flashing.
Although football games, pep rallies, and other annual school year rituals may have been postponed this year, Halloween is still on the calendar. Drivers should watch for children running across streets. More children are hit by cars on Halloween than any other night of the year.
Keep an Eye Out for Deer
From October until December, deer are on the move and hunters may not be far behind. November is the peak month for deer mating season and the time when cars are most likely to collide with deer. According to State Farm Insurance, Pennsylvania has one of the highest rates of collision claims involving deer. The following are facts about deer to keep in mind while driving during the fall:
- An adult deer can weigh more than 300 pounds.
- Deer are more likely to be moving about at dawn or dusk.
- Deer pay less attention to cars during the mating season.
- Deer travel greater distances during the fall as they seek mates.
- Deer typically travel in groups; if one deer is seen, another may not be far behind.
Know the Hazards Created by Leaves
Autumn leaves are beautiful, yet dangerous to drivers. The following are several serious hazards created by falling leaves:
- Reduced tire traction. Wet leaves can create a dense mat that prevents even the best tires from holding their traction on the road.
- Obscured road surfaces. Leaves can cover up potholes, manhole covers, and pavement markings, making it difficult for motorists to see lane lines and road hazards.
- Obstacles for bikes and cars. Bicyclists may have to swerve out of their lanes to avoid treacherous piles of leaves; cars may also park further from the curb.
- Puddles. Leaves may block drainage and create large puddles that drivers may not expect.
Motorists driving on a street covered with wet leaves should refrain from slamming on the brakes and, instead, slow down carefully.
Check Tire Pressure
When the air gets colder, tires lose pressure. As a general rule, tire pressure will decrease about one pound per square inch (PSI) for every 10 degrees dropped in temperature. It is important to note that the PSI inscribed on the tire sidewall is a maximum and not necessarily the recommended inflation. The car owner’s manual and/or the decal found on the driver’s side door jamb should list the recommended PSI for that vehicle. Although most vehicles do fine in winter with all-weather tires, winter tires may be a better choice.
Avoid Hydroplaning on Wet Roads
Flash flooding creates well-known dangers, including causing a car to lose the ability to steer if the front wheels become submerged in deep water. However, hydroplaning can also occur when rain starts to fall on roads that are covered with oil and dirt. To avoid hydroplaning, drivers should slow down gradually when it starts to rain.
Plan for Sun Glare
Sun glare can blind drivers and cause an abrupt slowdown in traffic. Sun glare is the worst on or near the first day of fall and the first day of spring, when the sun is closest to the horizon. The most dangerous time of day for sun glare is about 30 minutes after sunrise and 30 minutes before sunset, which unfortunately coincides with rush hour. It is best to avoid east/west roads and travel on north/south roads. However, that may not be possible. The next best option is to keep a pair of sunglasses handy in the car and keep the windshield clean.
Beware of Fog
Fog can develop quickly in low-lying areas during crisp autumn mornings. Fog can obscure deer, road signs, and oncoming cars. The guidelines for driving in fog include the following:
- Use fog lights if they are available on the vehicle.
- Slow down gradually when approaching a fog bank.
- Do not use high beams, as fog may reflect the bright light back into a driver’s eyes.
- Do not turn on hazard lights, as cars might try to pass thinking the car is on the side of the road.
Fog lights are designed to shine wide, low beams that illuminate the roadway surface and the edges of the street. It is best to use fog lights in conjunction with regular headlights. High beams should be used only at night on rural roads where oncoming traffic is sparse.
Be Prepared for Frost at Any Time
The first frost of fall can be quite a surprise. Before it gets cold, drivers should make sure their car is equipped with ice scrapers. Motorists should always defrost car windows and windshields before driving. On a chilly day, rain can turn to frost. This is especially true on bridges and overpasses.
Keep the Windshield Clean
A clean windshield can help motorists be better prepared to handle many of the features of fall driving noted in the previous paragraphs, including frost, fog, sun glare, the increased presence of children, and deer. The following tips are helpful:
- Keep extra windshield washer fluid on hand.
- Check wiper blades and replace them when needed.
- Clean the inside of the windshield regularly.
Washer fluid with a low freezing point should be used during the winter to prevent damage.
Philadelphia Car Accident Attorneys at Galfand Berger LLP Fight for Victims Injured in Seasonal Automobile Accidents
Preparing for fall driving conditions can help drivers stay safe. If you do get into a collision, contact a qualified Philadelphia car accident attorneys at Galfand Berger LLP. We have skillfully handled thousands of personal injury claims for accident victims over the years. For a free consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.