When Fall arrives, it brings with it a diversity of colors and fabulous apples, squashes, and pumpkins. It’s also the time of year when cooler temperatures refresh those people who cannot cope with heat, and they begin to get outside more and exercise. It’s the season when children go back to school, when stores gear up for the holiday season, and when festivals and other activities abound. Also, there are a number of Fall weather effects on driving that you should be aware of. Anticipation can be crucial for safer driving!
Back-to-school traffic – Gone are the quiet summer mornings that made driving such a pleasure. Those mornings have been replaced with a chaotic mixture of more buses, cars, and bicycles on the road. There are also many more walkers around in the morning and afternoon, corresponding to school openings and closings. Make sure you have time for that extra cup of coffee in the morning, keep the radio off or down low in areas of increased activity, and keep your eyes and ears open! However, traffic school can be a great way to dismiss a traffic ticket!
Falling leaves – In many parts of the country, Fall signifies the arrival of incredible Fall foliage. Hills glow with brilliant orange, red, and yellow leaves. But watch out! When leaves start to fall, they clutter the roadways, hiding pavement markers, traffic lines, and potholes. When leaves get wet from rain, they can become slick, and driving on slick leaves can be just as dangerous as driving on ice
Fog – One constant of crisp Fall mornings is the arrival of fog, which can greatly limit your distance perception and your driving visibility. Fog tends to settle in low elevations, which are surrounded by trees, mountains, or water. A common error of drivers is to turn on their high beams when driving under foggy conditions. It’s better to stay with your low beams, since high beams tend to bounce off fog and also create glare. If you’re driving through fog, make sure you slow down, and keep a healthy distance between you and the vehicle in front of you so you’ll have more than enough time to stop if you have to. Also, find a safe place to pull over and wait it out. Remember, fog is usually fleeting, and a few minute’s delay might save the lives of you and your passengers
Rain and frost – In the early days of Fall, rain can pool on top of oil and dust that remain on the roads from summer, and cause very slippery conditions. Morning frost and icy spots are caused by dramatic temperature drops at nighttime. Frost is most prevalent on overpasses, bridges, and shady areas of the road, so remember to drive slowly and carefully
Sun glare – Glare can affect your sight for several seconds after exposure, and can make it hard to see oncoming traffic, pedestrians, or even the vehicle in front of you. Many accident victims describe being blinded by the sun before the accident occurred. Your vehicle can also cause a problem if the sun is setting behind you. Sunlight can reflect off traffic lights ahead, or bounce off the rearview mirror and blind you until your eyes adjust. It can make it difficult, or even impossible, to see the red light ahead, and hamper your efforts to know whether you should stop or go.
Deer – Fall is mating and migration season for deer, and they will frequently dart out onto the road, especially at nighttime
Be prepared for Fall’s weather challenges by watching your speed, keeping your distance, and keeping your windshield clean.