Stay safe on the road this autumn with these 5 essential safety strategies

September 3rd, 2015 by admin

Many people love autumn for the falling leaves, golden sunshine, cool mornings and the excitement of going back to school. While they are precisely what makes the season so enjoyable, many of autumn's unique characteristics make for dangerous driving conditions. In this post we will identify some road hazards that accompany the changing of the seasons and strategies for combating them. 

Back to school

The onset of autumn heralds an increase in school-related traffic. Family cars and school busses laden with children fill the streets on their way to and from school, slowing traffic. Many areas that are clear during the summer months get clogged in September due to increased traffic and reduced speed limits in school zones. If you're driving in the morning or afternoon, watch out for children walking to and from bus stops or waiting for the bus on the sides of the road. 

It might be worthwhile to switch up your route when the school year starts if your commute takes you near a school. While it might not be the shortest option in July, come autumn it could save you time and hassle to go around the school area, rather than through it. Even if you're not near a school, however, there may still be children outside waiting for or walking to the bus, so always drive carefully.

Solar slowdown

Autumn's shorter days and shallower angle of the sun in the sky combine to produce the perfect recipe for solar glare. Although you may have performed both your morning and evening commutes in full sunlight during the summer, you may find the sun just on the horizon, shining directly into your eyes, on autumn mornings and evenings. Solar glare can be dangerous because it limits drivers' ability to see hazards in front of them, including brake lights. 

To reduce the effect of solar glare while you are driving, carry a pair of sunglasses in your vehicle for autumn driving. Even if the sun is not directly in your eyes when you initially set out, it's a good idea to put them on anyway so you're not blinded if you turn a corner just to be greeted by the sun. Also, leaving more space between yourself and the car ahead of you can give you more time to react when visibility is low. 

Fogged up

While there's nothing quite like stepping into your slippers on a crisp autumn morning, the cool temperatures often lead to fog, which can greatly limit your driving visibility. Fog tends to form in low areas surrounded by hills, water or trees and can set in before you know it. 

If you find yourself stuck in a patch of fog and unable to see very well, do not put on your high beams. While it can seem like a tempting way to increase visibility, using your high beams actually makes the problem worse, as they reflect off of the fog to create a glare that's even more difficult to see through than the fog. Instead, keep using your low beams (or fog lights, if your car is equipped with them) and keep extra distance between yourself and the tail lights ahead of you. 

Fallen leaves

While foliage is perhaps the most beautiful part of autumn, fallen leaves can in fact prove especially dangerous when they accumulate on the road. Leaves tend to cover lines and street markings, and after rain they can make roads as slippery as ice. 

Drive slowly over patches of leaves on the road to prevent your car from losing traction and entering a skid. 

Tire pressure fluctuates along with temperature

While autumn is known for its crisp mornings and nights, it can still get hot during the day. As the air temperature changes outside, it also changes in your tires. During the day, the air in your tires will be warm, making them seem properly inflated. Overnight, however, your tires will cool down and lose pressure, putting you at risk of getting a flat or losing traction on your morning commute. 

Check your tires in the morning, as well as during the day, to make sure they are still inflated properly. Also, if you notice your tire pressure is getting low during the day, fill it up before it has the chance to drop any further overnight.

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