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Fall Seasonal Driving Hazards: Navigating the Beauty and Challenges of Autumn Roads

Autumn colored forest

The transition from summer to fall brings with it a myriad of changes: the vibrant hues of leaves, cooler temperatures, and the return of pumpkin-spiced everything. However, as the season shifts, so do the challenges on the road. From school-going children to unpredictable weather patterns, autumn presents unique driving hazards that every motorist should be aware of.

The Hazards of Fall Driving

1. Back to School:

  • Watch for Kids: With the school year in full swing, there's an increase in children walking or waiting for buses. It's crucial to exercise caution in school zones and be vigilant for young pedestrians crossing the street.

2. The Darkening Days:

  • Nighttime Driving: As days shorten, many find themselves driving in the dark more frequently. Ensure your headlights are clean and functional. Additionally, be on the lookout for nocturnal animals, especially in areas known for deer activity.

3. Leaf-Covered Roads:

  • Slippery When Wet: Wet leaves can be as treacherous as ice. Slow down on leaf-covered roads, especially around turns. Remember, driving over piles of leaves can also hide potholes or other road imperfections.

4. The Glare of Autumn Sun:

  • Sunrise and Sunset: The lower angle of the sun during fall can cause significant glare during peak commuting hours. Keep your windshield clean, both inside and out, and consider keeping a pair of sunglasses handy.

5. First Frosts:

  • Icy Conditions: Cold mornings can lead to frost, making roads slippery. Always defrost your car windows thoroughly before setting out and be particularly cautious on bridges and overpasses, which tend to freeze first.

6. Rainy Days:

  • Reduced Visibility and Traction: Fall can bring heavy rains, making roads slick and reducing visibility. Increase your following distance, slow down, especially around turns, and ensure your wipers are in good condition.

7. Deer Season:

  • Increased Activity: Fall is a particularly active time for deer. If you spot one crossing the road, be prepared for more to follow. Slow down in areas known for deer activity.

Tips from the Experts

From the AAA Northeast Magazine, here are some additional insights and tips for safe fall driving:

  • Driving in Fog: Cold autumn mornings can bring fog. When driving in foggy conditions, use low-beam headlights as high beams can reflect off the fog, impairing visibility further. Always slow down and maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.
  • Wet Conditions: Wet leaves can be as treacherous as ice. Remove leaves from your windshield before starting your car and replace worn-out wiper blades. During heavy rain, avoid sudden steering or braking to prevent hydroplaning.
  • Other Considerations: Avoid parking over leaf piles as it can be a fire hazard. Similarly, never drive over a pile of leaves as children might be playing in them. With changing temperatures, potholes can form, so be cautious, especially in leaf-covered areas.
Fall Driving Tips

Autumn is a season of beauty, but it also brings its driving challenges. Awareness of these hazards and adjusting your driving habits can ensure you navigate the roads safely during this picturesque season. Stay safe and enjoy the beauty of fall!