Whether you head out for a Sunday drive or simply to run errands, autumn with its comfortably cool temperatures and beautiful changing leaves is a wonderful time to be on the road. However, the changing environmental conditions of the season pose some driving safety challenges.
To ensure that your trip is safe and enjoyable, consider these important tips before you get behind the wheel.
Do a seasonal systems check
Just like the experts advise that you change the batteries in your home’s smoke detectors in the fall and spring, the change of seasons serves as a great time to evaluate some of your vehicle’s important safety features. Your tires top the list. Tires lose pressure as the temperature falls, so as the average daytime high drops, be sure to check your pressure and adjust as needed. You should also check your wiper blades to ensure they are ready for rain and snow.
Prepare for sun glare
Driving just after sunrise or before sunset, especially on east/west roadways, can be especially challenging in the fall due to glare. Be sure to have sunglasses handy and a windshield that is sparkling clean inside and out.
Treat leaves like ice
Leaves, both wet and dry, present a braking hazard. This risk is magnified when you drive downhill or around curves. Slow your speed before you reach leaf-covered stretches and use extra caution, including applying your brakes more gradually.
Watch for wildlife
Autumn marks the mating season and a period of increased activity for many animals, including deer. Be alert for them running onto the roadway. And while you certainly don’t want to hit an animal, be aware of the significant risks of swerving to avoid one.
Be careful on bridges
Because they are cooled by the air both above and below them, bridges ice up faster than roadways. Use slower speeds on bridges. Shaded spots on the road can be similarly icy and treacherous.
Rain, sleet, snow, and fog can make driving more challenging. Check the current conditions and the forecast before you start your trip, allowing extra time if needed. If icy or foggy conditions are present, consider driving in the middle part of the day when the sun is providing its maximum warming benefit.
While fall driving comes with certain challenges, exercising a bit more awareness and caution can help ensure that you reach your destination without incident.
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