There's no doubt that the autumn hues make for beautiful drives, but changing leaves herald changing weather, which can make driving a bit more dangerous. If you live in an area where autumn leaves dominate the season, there are some extra fall driving safety tips that you should be aware of.
Top Tips for Driving Safely in Fall
If you aren't familiar with the dangers that can occur when the trees shed their leaves, count yourself lucky. But, fall leaves aren't the only hazard during this time of year. You also need to be aware as school children and deer cross the roads, and darker days leave your eyes adjusting to the low light. Here are some of the top fall driving safety tips:
- Leaves leave roads slick. Roads layered with leaves, especially those that are wet with dew or rain, can be as slick as ice. This can be a serious driving hazard, and you should steer clear when possible. If avoiding the fallen foliage isn't a possibility, you should at least avoid hard braking on wet leaves, as this causes loss of traction and increases the possibility of skidding.
- Deer are crossing. Fall is a prime time for vehicle collisions with deer. Not only is whitetail deer breeding season in full swing, but deer are also being flushed out of their habitats by hunters, often ending up on roadways. All of this – combined with low light during dusk and dawn, when deer are more active – leads to an increased risk of collisions. To safely avoid deer during fall driving, slow down, pay close attention to the sides of the road, and use your high beams when it's safe to do so.
- Never veer for deer. Veering has the potential for causing a worse accident. If you can't avoid colliding with a deer, the Michigan Department of Transportation recommends braking firmly and holding the steering wheel with both hands while you come to a controlled stop.
- Changing weather changes your drive. Now is the time to pay attention to your local weather forecast before heading out the door. Early morning commuters are more likely to encounter frost on the roadways, especially where roads are shaded and over bridges. In addition, sudden storms can change driving conditions in a flash. No matter if it's rain or snow, prepare for a more slippery drive and keep a safe driving distance from the vehicle ahead of you. Practice caution, and be prepared for the unknown by always keeping a car care kit, jumper cables, and a first aid kit in your vehicle.
- Shorter days mean more driving in the dark. After the fall equinox in September you have an increased probability of driving in the dark both to and from work. When you have to drive in the dark, it's a good idea to let your eyes adjust to the lower light before you leave. Experts say it takes several minutes for your eyes to adjust to darkness.
- There's a high chance of high glare. Glare is actually worse in fall and winter due to the naturally lower position of the sun in the sky. This leads to just the right angle for the sun to have a blinding effect as it hits your windshield. Good polarizing sunglasses, a clean windshield, and window tinting can all help combat the effects of fall glare. But, if you commute around sunrise and sunset it might be wise to avoid east-west roads, if possible.
Make Sure Your Car is Ready for Fall
Besides paying more attention as you drive in the fall, you also need to make sure your car is up to the task of keeping you safe. The cooler temperatures and darker days are a good reason to pay attention to your tires and headlights, and the wetter weather is good reason to check your wiper blades.
As the temperatures drop, your tires can lose some of their pressure, so make sure to check if yours are looking low. Tires lose one to two pounds of pressure for every 10 degrees the temperature drops. Don't forget to check the tire sticker inside your driver's door, or consult your owner's manual for the proper pressure.
Lower light, the presence of school children in crosswalks, and more critters crossing the roads are all good reasons to make sure your headlights are performing their best, as well. Replace the bulbs if your lights are looking dim, or if you've never changed them and have had your car for several years. If foggy headlight covers are causing your lights to lack their proper shine, you can polish them yourself with a fairly affordable kit found at most big box and automotive stores.
One last thing to check is the alignment of your headlights. Headlights that aren't correctly aligned can cause you to miss things in your path. You should have your mechanic do this so yours are adjusted correctly.
Is Your Vehicle Falling Short?
If your car isn't up to the task of making it through another change in seasons, fall can be a great time to shop for a newer vehicle. If your credit has you hesitant to take the plunge because you don't know where to find financing, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Auto Credit Express knows how to help.
We work with a nationwide network of special finance dealerships that have lenders available to help people in many kinds of credit situations. You don't have to hesitate any longer – go ahead and take the plunge. Simply fill out our online auto loan request form and we'll get to work matching you with a local dealer today!