Driving on public roads at any time of the year requires a high level of concentration and an awareness of the conditions around you. But the onset of fall has the ability to present a number of additional road hazards that need to be accounted for.
An increase in rainfall and the abundance of fallen leaves, coupled with a change in wild animal activity and reduced visibility presents a series of extra challenges that aren’t present during the summer months. Let’s take a look at the hazards you’re likely to encounter and how you can mitigate their impact.
Wet Road Surfaces
The first heavy periods of rainfall during the transition to fall can make driving on road surfaces treacherous as water combines with road film. You’ll often find a significant build-up of this film which takes the form of oil and diesel spills as well as other contaminants which are left over from the summer months. It all adds up to slippery roads and a surface that offers very little traction.
Watch Your Braking Distances
Leaving sufficient braking distance should always be a factor when driving, but it’s even more important during periods of poor weather, or where the levels of available traction are limited.
Deciduous trees start to shed their leaves as the year progresses, resulting in an abundance of golden brown leaves littering the highway. And while they’re pretty to look at, they dramatically reduce your levels of available traction when they’re wet, presenting a slippery road surface your tires will have a hard time gripping.
In addition, an excessive build-up of leaves can hide obstacles and hazards that would usually be visible, but are now obscured until it’s too late to avoid them.
Reduce Your Speed
The best way to mitigate against the risk of sliding on leaves is by reducing your speed and avoiding hard cornering and exaggerated steering movements when you’re unable to see the road surface.
The sun’s position in the sky is constantly changing throughout the year – it’s highest during summer before gradually descending as winter approaches. Driving towards low lying sun can obscure your vision and make it far more difficult to see than it usually would be.
You may also find that seeing traffic signal lights is more challenging, as is the use of your vehicle’s rearview mirror when the sun’s behind you.
Use Your Sun Visor and Consider Wearing Sunglasses
The effective use of your vehicle’s sun visor and/or wearing a pair of UV sunglasses is the best way to ensure your vision is never obscured due to excessive sun glare.
Fog and Reduced Visibility
Fog is one of the most significant hazards you’ll experience when driving. If you live in an area that features large bodies of water, mountains, hills or trees, experiencing foggy conditions is highly likely.
Heavy fog has the ability to reduce your viewing distances by a significant margin, making it difficult to see vehicles only 30-feet away.
Use Your Fog Lights and Reduce Your Speed
Using both front and rear fog lights will help other road users see your vehicle. We also recommend extending the distance you leave between the car ahead of you and reducing your speed to a more cautious level.
Deer are far more active during fall, and you’ll find that nearby farming activity will usually see them venture into a variety of areas and closer to public highways. It’s also important to note that the presence of one deer will usually mean there are more nearby and they often attempt to cross roads in quick succession.
Stay Alert During Dusk and Dawn
These times of the day are favored for deer movement which, coupled with low light conditions, can mean avoiding them is difficult. As always, reduce your speed and be prepared for more deer in the area, even if you’ve seen only one.
Stay Safe on the Road
Driving in fall can be enjoyable as the changes in nature and wildlife provide an abundance of beauty and gorgeous scenery. The important thing to remember is that road conditions won’t be as good as they were during summer, and your levels of visibility will almost always be reduced, necessitating an increased amount of caution and more awareness of your surroundings.