Road Safety During the Fall

Gone are the long hot days of summer, now the blustery cool autumn is upon us. Kids are back in school, it’s no longer painful to be outside in the sun, and winter is next on the horizon. Fall is a great time to enjoy the outdoors, which means going for drives. However, fall poses a new set of threats and dangers for drivers. If you want to get out and enjoy the autumn weather while keeping safety in mind on the road, read on for some tips.

Kids are back in school

This sounds like a non-issue, but it’s a big deal for drivers. Not only will school zones be a lot busier with foot traffic, so will plenty of other areas. Businesses that have school kids as their clientele, areas popular with kids, like parks and rec spots, and more will be fuller with faster, less predictable foot traffic. Young people, especially young children, are unpredictable. They are known for running out in front of traffic with no warning. Also, they are short, so it’s tough, if not impossible, to see them come out from between cars. 

To stay safe on the road when there are kids about, there are a few easy steps we can follow. 

  • Don’t pass a school bus with its stop signs out. This shouldn’t be an issue, but buses often have cameras now to catch people doing exactly that.
  • Obey the speed limit in school zones.
  • Drive a bit slower and be more vigilant in any area frequented by groups of children.

 

Leaves on the road

Leaves, especially wet ones, are a major hazard on the road. Leaves can obscure the lane markers and sides of the road, making driving a bit more difficult. The biggest threat that leaves pose though is that they are extremely slippery. Wet leaves are the most dangerous, as they provide little to no traction on the road for any car or motorbike. 

  • Watch out when you are driving in any heavily forested area in the fall. It’s more likely that there will be leaves on the ground. 
  • Be careful during the rain, as that soaks existing fallen leaves, making them more dangerous to drive on.
  • Don’t take sharp turns over wet leaves. 
  • Do not brake on wet leaves.

 

Worse weather conditions in general

Not only are there leaves on the roads to deal with, but fall driving is more slippery than summer in general. More rain increases your risk of hydroplaning and lowers your vision. Fall temperatures change a lot — the noon weather could be 30 or 40 degrees higher than nighttime weather. This means that condensation is more likely to form. Wetness on the ground/road decreases traction and driving ability. Fog is common in many places in the fall as well, seriously hurting visual conditions.

In some parts of the country, there might even be some frost or ice on the roads already. If you live in an area that sees snow/ice in winter, it’s time to start getting ready in the fall.                                                                                                                                               

  • Maintain a safe following distance on highways.
  • Don’t use your high beams in heavy rain/fog. The water particles will block the beams from illuminating very much in front of you. The reflections from the light will also make it harder for other drivers to see.
  • Be prepared for roads to be more wet/slippery than usual.

 

Sunlight and lack thereof

As the seasons change, so too does the amount of sunlight we get in the northern hemisphere. As the date approaches December 21st, the winter equinox, the days get shorter and shorter. Basically, you will have fewer hours of sunlight on the road. This means that if driving in the dark is problematic, or if you would rather avoid it, you will need to plan your trip to make the most out of the daylight hours. Remember, when it comes to accidents, vehicle occupant deaths are three times higher at night.

Another problem with the changing sunlight is there is more sun glare during the fall. During and around the autumnal equinox (September 22nd in 2020), the sun rises and sets due east and west. This means that driving around this time can be a real pain. Many city streets are oriented east/west, so during dawn and dusk fall driving, be sure to bring some sunglasses or something for the sun.

Tires

Your tires will change in pressure with the temperature. Tires lose 1-2 pounds of pressure for every 10 degree drop in the temperature. If you live in a place with a big daily temperature change, make sure to get your tires ready for the varying weather of the fall. 

Fall is a good time to make sure your tires are in good condition as well. As the weather will be getting worse, conditions more slippery, and winter is on the way, you need your tires to have your back. Make sure your tires aren’t bald, damaged, or otherwise unsafe for your vehicle.

  • Check your tire pressure regularly. Your car manual will tell you what the ideal pressure is.
  • Take a look at your tires for damage/signs of wear and tear. Get them serviced if necessary.

 

Animals are out

Autumn weather sees a lot of animals out and about. It’s hunting season for a reason in the fall. The animals born during spring and summer are still thriving, and hibernating animals are still active. 

  • Pay attention to deer crossing signs.
  • Be careful when driving at dawn/dusk. Those times of day are when most animals are out and active. Be especially careful at this time because it’s harder to see with sun glare during these times of the day.

 

Stay safe this fall

We may not be able to make you or anyone else a better driver, but we can ensure your roads are top-notch. Reliable Paving is a paving contractor company with the know-how, experience, and resources to make sure your asphalt paving is up to snuff. With 35 years of experience, we are experts who can restripe, fix potholes and cracks, and completely replace pavement if necessary. Send us a message today, and we get your road Autumn ready.