In the fall, the sun comes up later and it gets dark earlier. Setting the clocks behind one hour accelerates the change. This is one reason that the risks of a car accident increase in fall.
For motorists in the fall, knowing the risks of driving at this time can result in safer traveling and in turn fewer accidents.
The Accident Statistics are Concerning
Unfortunately, car accidents are a common occurrence. Although miles traveled may have gone down during the coronavirus pandemic, on average there are some six million car accidents in the United States every year. This translates to more than 16,000 car accidents each day. Car accidents result in property damage and the full range of personal injury and fatalities.
The usual suspects for so many road accidents are drivers under the influence, distracted drivers, and drivers who are reckless because they speed or drive without regard for the safety of others and themselves.
There are other identified causes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that teenage drivers are almost twice at risk for accidents than elderly drivers.
Included in distracted driving is cellphone use where about one of every four vehicle accidents are caused by texting and driving. Most states prohibit texting and driving to some degree.
In any season of the year, a safe driver must remain cognizant of the risk of a car accident in order not to be included in the 16,000 daily accidents nationwide.
Car accidents are expensive. Aside from the human toll they take and the problems they create, insurance premiums go up and deductibles still must be paid.
What are Some Fall Accident Risks?
These fall accident risks can be placed into categories.
Lack of car maintenance. When seasons change, car maintenance will involve different upkeep. In the fall, you need to keep your car in proper running order.
Take your car in for service for an oil change and to check the belts, the fluids, the brakes, the tires for wear and for rotating, and the regular service your car needs. Changing your windshield wipers is important because the more wear they have, the less effective they may be. While checking the wipers, add wiper fluid that is suitable for weather changes from milder days to colder days and nights.
Ask your service person to check your battery, which usually has a defined life of approximately three years. The vehicle’s lights, headlights and stop lights especially, need to be checked as well. Make sure the heater works also.
Need for driver maintenance. Although your car can be brought into proper condition for the fall, you may not be. Shorter daylight hours and the clock change can cause fatigue. Your morning cup of coffee may not snap you out of a drowsy condition.
Early and late fall days brings a change in the sun’s position in the sky, resulting in glare. Without sunglasses or properly adjusting your sun visor, you may suddenly find yourself facing blinding sunlight from glare.
With the start of fall, drivers have to reacclimate themselves to driving at dusk or night. You can be surprised how different nighttime driving can be from those long summer days when you are used to hours of daylight.
Before you get behind the wheel, check for the items you may need now in the fall. These may include gloves, sunglasses, a roadside assistance card, and a fully inflated spare tire in good condition.
Fall hours can feature weather changes when the nighttime temperatures are colder than those in the daytime. Road surfaces that get moist or wet can freeze. Inside the car, you may need to install all-weather floormats that contain water and ice and show.
It is wise to develop a habit of doing a quick walk-around your car first to look for fluid leaks or underinflated tires. Both conditions can be due to weather changes affecting the car’s equipment.
Outside risks. The fall presents unique outside risks to the driver. Deer and animals are feeding or mating and are undeterred by the presence of vehicles whizzing by. Road surfaces can crack from quick freezes and thaws.
Schools return to session with buses and cars dropping children off. There are more of these vehicles on the roads. School buses mind the speed limits, and when they are stopped with their warning lights on, vehicles cannot pass them. Other students may walk to school, and they not be paying attention when approaching curbs and streets. Watch out for children.
At age 17 or 18, a student can get a driver’s license. They may not be fully comfortable with driving to and from school. If these young motorists are not moving with traffic, they may be too cautious. Other drivers should not startle them.
Students involved in after-school activities may be staying later, and when they leave it may be closer to dusk. Give them the opportunity to make it home safely.
There are other student drivers on the road, including those in driver’s education or those with permits accompanied by an adult driver. Either way, they are novice drivers.
Students are not unlike adult drivers who are short on time and get into the car to drive while having a bite of breakfast or drinking their coffee. Eating and driving is considered distracted driving. This includes enjoying a beverage. Anything that takes the driver’s hands off the steering wheel or their eyes from the road ahead is distracted driving. This behavior is dangerous, and no matter the acute reflexes of a younger person, it may not be enough to steer free of an accident when the accident takes a second or less to occur.
Also, there are the autumn weather conditions with falling leaves that can be slippery when wet. Morning road surfaces may be frozen until the diminishing sunshine hits them. Black ice is always a risk when driving while it is not yet daylight.
Road risks. Fall features road risks that are found in any season.
Trucks, especially tractor-trailers, can have difficulties negotiating curves and changes in decelerating while going downhill. The larger and heavier trucks may have air brakes, but this does not eliminate the danger.
Large vehicles, including buses and tractor-trailers, have features that can cause the vehicle to shift to one side when the vehicle is making a quick turn or changing lanes.
Vehicles close to or over the permitted weight limit of 80,000 pounds can be harder to control, especially when going downhill.
In the fall, road maintenance, scheduled or on an emergency basis, can involve lane changes and reduced speed areas. Construction zones have their own safety issues in any season.
Using Knowledge to Avoid Fall’s Accident Risks
There are so many distractions for a driver these days. These distractions include changing a radio station, listening for a traffic report, and checking a GPS traffic map. Even driving a car equipped with lane departure and blind-spot alerts can give a false sense of safety and security to any driver. Experience with driver’s assist and hands-free technology shows that automobile advances are not designed to replace the driver and the driver’s attention to the task involved.
Use knowledge to keep you and your loved ones safe, in the fall and all year. Be prepared to avoid driving accident risks in the fall.
Delaware Car Accident Injury Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Injured Clients Recover
If you or a loved one was injured in a motor vehicle accident, our car accident injury lawyers in Delaware are available to assist. We will fight hard for you and your family to achieve the most favorable outcome that the law allows. Call us today at 302-888-1221 or contact us online. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients in Dover, Newark, and Middletown.