With every change of season, comes different driving challenges. In early fall, darkness arrives early and the ever-less-timid deer population is on the move. Those and other factors have led U.S. DOT to warn of a marked increase in the number of vehicle accidents as the fall season begins.
At this time of year, early morning and late afternoon sun glare can play optical tricks on even the most careful drivers. The problem is at its worst the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset. It helps if you:
- Slow down and increase following distance
- Wear polarized sunglasses to reduce glare
- Keep your windshield and wiper blades clean, and the washer fluid full
- Lower your visor to help block reflected light
- Keep your headlights on to make your vehicle visible to others.
Cooler temperatures, falling leaves and slippery roads are additional fall season driving challenges. Prepare your vehicle with a thorough pre-trip inspection and remember to:
- Keep tires properly inflated
- Make sure all lights an signals are working
- Keep mirrors and windows clean and streak-free inside and out
Slippery road conditions can develop quickly in the fall. Heavy rains create pools of water, and driving through them can compromise driving control and cause hydroplaning. Spray from vehicles in every direction can blind you. Temperatures can drop suddenly and frost can accumulate. Bridges and overpasses freeze more quickly than roadways. You can go from wet roads to ice in an instant. Fallen leaves can be as treacherous as ice. Even in dry weather, patches of fallen leaves can retain water and create slippery surfaces. Piles of leaves can also obscure potholes, curbs and other road hazards.
Oh Deer!…A Deadly Serious Problem
Slowing down and staying alert help you to avoid deer that appear “out of nowhere”. Pay attention to deer crossing signs; they are posted for a reason. And remember that if you see one deer, there are usually more as they travel in small herds. Other ways to help avoid a collision with deer include:
- Use your high beams when it’s safe to do so, and watch for deer eyes reflecting in your headlights
- Remember the exact spot where you saw a deer cross the road; they are creatures of habit and will use the same paths
- Honking your horn and flashing your headlights can help scare the animal off; and
- If you do strike a deer, call police or other authorities for assistance, move your vehicle off the roadway an stay in your vehicle until help arrives.