Fall is the time for crisp nights, warm days and colorful landscapes, but these seasonal changes create unique road hazards that drivers should be aware of. We’ve put together a list of the top five driving dangers that you need to be wary of during the season to keep you safe when you’re on the road.
By the time the fall is in full swing, most parts of the country lose five to six hours of sunlight each day, leaving busy commuters in the dark. The morning commute is especially hazardous as school is back in session. Expect to see an uptick in traffic and pedestrians, and be ready to stop for school buses. If you have a long commute home in the afternoon, don’t forget to turn on your headlights as soon as the sun starts to go down.
For many regions of the country, the fall brings high daytime temperatures that plummet when the sun goes down. These temperature fluctuations — especially when frost is on the menu — can cause tires to expand and contract too quickly. To ensure that your tires are in the best working condition, check tire pressure often during the fall.
Expect the unexpected when it comes to fall weather. Sudden rainstorms, nighttime frost and daytime fog are all too common, and they can cause problems for the unprepared. Make sure that your headlights, defroster and windshield wipers are in good working condition before the season is in full swing, and always use your low beams when driving through the fog.
Some parts of the country are also prone to sudden snow or ice storms that can occur as early as late October. If you’re not already signed up to receive weather alerts on your phone, this is a good time to do it so that you’ll always know what to expect when you’re on the road.
We love the breathtaking foliage of early autumn, but leaf peepers can make driving dangerous. They tend to drive slowly and sometimes erratically, and they pull over to the side of the road frequently to take pictures. If you live in a prime leaf-peeping region, drive a little slower than usual and keep a good distance between you and the car ahead of you.
Once the leaves begin to fall, they cause a different set of problems. Wet leaves can make roads slick, and they can also cover up potholes, speed bumps and even in the lane lines. Again, drive a bit slower than normal, and clear errant leaves from your headlights and wipers frequently so that they’re in peak condition.
Early fall is peak mating season for deer and the beginning of the hunting season — both of which can force these animals out of their home territory and out onto the roadways. Deer usually forage for food between dusk and dawn, so be extra vigilant when on the roads at night. Use your high beams when possible, and scan the sides of the roads for any movement. Use caution even if you only see one deer, as they generally travel in a group.