Operating a motor vehicle in each of the four seasons has its own challenges and risks for drivers. Motorists need to know those dangers when they are driving during autumn days and nights. By being aware of the challenges of driving in autumn, drivers can stay safe and avoid a car accidents.
Tips to Handle Autumn Driving Dangers
Driving in autumn requires many of the same precautions motorists must take in any other season. Before driving during the autumn, motorists should take the following steps to ensure a safe trip.
Always perform routine maintenance. A vehicle of any type needs to have routine maintenance. For a car, this includes regular oil changes; regular fluid changes, such as antifreeze, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and others; tire inspections and rotations or changes; routine milage service; checking hoses; and checking or replacing the battery. Oil change stickers, placed on the upper left inside of the windshield, reminds you to service your car every three months. Make sure you keep a regular schedule for maintenance as suggested by the manufacturer or service facility.
Check the vehicle before setting out. Pilots do a walk-around of their airplane before every flight to visually access the airworthiness of the plane. A driver should do a quick walk-around to make sure there are no obvious issues with the car. Look for tires with lower air pressure or wear or even with punctures. Look for leaking fluids, which can include oil or transmission or brake fluid. Check the muffler and tailpipe to see if it has dislodged from the brackets holding them up to the car’s underside.
Take a moment to clean the windshield outside and inside. Autumn weather can cause the windshield to fog up on the inside. Use your defroster and/or use the air conditioner to keep the windshield clear.
Have needed items handy. You need your driver’s license, car registration, and proof of insurance. If you wear glasses, check them to make sure the lenses are clean and not streaked or scratched. Driving anywhere with scratched lenses can distort the images you see when lights or water come into view. It is a good idea to have sunglasses handy as well.
Adjust controls in the vehicle. Once inside the car and before you drive off, install and adjust your seat belt; move the seat to a comfortable position; adjust all mirrors; and if you use the GPS, enter the destination address first before you drive off. If you wish to listen to the radio or other music, adjust the sound system as needed before starting the trip.
Safe Driving Practices
All drivers of any type of vehicle need to drive safely and defensively.
Things to avoid. Do not drive distracted, which means no cellphone use unless the phone is hands-free and allowed in your state. Eating should be avoided while driving. Do not drive under the influence of anything, including prescription medicines, that can make you drowsy. Do not talk to passengers or gesture if it takes your eyes off the road ahead. Do not exceed posted speed limits; they are not suggestions. Match your speed to the road’s conditions. Do not tailgate or follow too closely, since either situation reduces your reaction time and your car’s brakes need a certain distance to fully stop the vehicle. The car length rule between vehicles does work.
Things to do. Before making a turn or changing lanes, signal and check all available mirrors to look for vehicles behind or approaching or even at the side of your car. If necessary, turn your head to quickly check around the car. Use all the technology the car has to offer, which now includes blind spot warnings and lane departure warnings. Be a defensive driver first and foremost. Think of the other vehicles as potential risks to your safety and anyone traveling with you. If you see a car following too closely, let that car pass you. Allow speeders to get into the left lane to pass slower cars, including yours. Also, avoid erratic drivers, since you cannot anticipate what they might do next.
Safe driving habits are your starting point when driving in the autumn or at any month of the year.
Autumn Driving Risks Motorists Need to Remember
In the Northeast or mid-Atlantic areas, we still have four seasons. Although spring or fall can seem to be shorter these days, you need to remember how to drive in each of the four seasons. Motorists should not be caught unaware of the change in seasons.
These are the driving risks to look for in the fall:
The sun. Direct or indirect sunlight complicates autumn driving. Science says the sun’s angle in the sky on an autumn morning or in the late afternoon when the day turns to dusk is unlike other times because the sunlight is concentrated in a narrower sector but is longer in reach. This results in glare. Glare can come over the horizon without warning, and your eyes do not have time to adjust. Keep a pair of sunglasses handy. Use the sun visors and move them down or at an angle to shield your eyes.
Quickly changing lighting conditions. Changed clock settings and loss of sunlight each day present their own set of problems. Turn on your headlights before it gets dark or make sure your automatic headlights are selected. Your blind spot mirrors may be more difficult to use because of reflections.
Unexpected weather conditions. The scenic fall days feature multi-colored trees with leaves that will soon fall to the ground. Fallen leaves can be wet and freeze overnight, leaving the surface icy. Morning fog from warm air trapped by colder air near the ground can freeze and be slippery. Anticipate slick conditions from overnight rain. Any water on the ground can become black ice, which is difficult to see and very difficult to drive on. Know how to use your car’s fog lights and when to use them. These lights illuminate a path farther down the road by focusing under the ground fog. Whatever you do, avoid using your high beams in the fog or misty weather because high beams will just bounce the light right back to you. Using low beams is more efficient. Also, using high beams will make it more difficult for drivers coming the other way to see.
Particular autumn conditions. Not only does a driver have to be concerned with icy conditions from overnight freezes, but also there are other dangers lurking. A vehicle’s tires can lose air pressure in weather that goes from warmer to colder. Motorcyclists may be on the road in greater numbers to enjoy the autumn days. Motorists should never drive into a leaf pile; children have been known to hide in them. Bicycles ridden by children and adults should be expected on streets with schools opening and adults returning to work. Any two-wheeler is a challenge for blind spot monitoring.
Animals on the road. Wildlife is plentiful in the fall. Unfortunately, deer do not follow the rules when seeking out mates and food. This means that they are on the sides of roads that have trees. Deer and other animals may dart into traffic. Deer tend to be more mobile at dawn and dusk when they are harder to see. Drivers must be alert to avoid a collision with an animal attempting to cross the road.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, Advocate for Victims of Accidents in Any Season
Although drivers must be careful on the road any time of year, autumn brings special challenges to motorists. If you have been in an accident, reach out to the Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. We will investigate the cause of the accident and help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 215-569-4888 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.