Fall is a time for hay rides, leaf peeping and pumpkin picking. It’s also a time when road and weather conditions make getting there a little tougher.
Stay safe on the road this season with these smart driving tips.
Don’t brake on leaves. Wet leaves can be as slippery as ice. Drive slowly through them and avoid hard braking. Leaves may obscure lane lines and other road markers, so pay attention to the edge of the road and take care to stay in your lane, advises PennDOT.
Avoid sun glare. On and near the autumnal equinox (which fell on September 22 in 2018), the first 15 to 45 minutes after sunrise and before sunset can make for more difficult driving due to sun glare. The sun perfectly aligns with east/west roadways during this time. Grab a good pair of sunglasses for the daytime, keep your windshield clean and use north/south streets or streets with tree cover when possible, says the National Weather Service.
Use your rain smarts. During fall, many cities see increased rainfall. When it’s raining, be sure to maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you, as the wet roads may be more slippery than usual and you may be at higher risk of hydroplaning. Use your low beams or fog lights (never high beams) in fog conditions, says the Safety Council.
Be careful on bridges. As the temperature begins to drop, morning frost can leave icy patches on bridges, overpasses and shaded spots on the road. Slow down.
Adjust your eyes. We lose 1 to 2 minutes of daylight daily after the autumnal equinox according to the National Weather Service. After leaving home or the office and before hitting the gas petal, give your eyes time to adjust to the dark, advises the Minnesota Safety Council. It takes them between 2 and 5 minutes to start adjusting.
Make sure your vehicle is up to the task. That means you should:
- Check your tire pressure. Tires lose 1 to 2 pounds of pressure for every 10-degree temperature drop, according to the Safety Council.
- Replace your windshield wipers. A really clean window can help you see when there’s glare.
- Adjust your headlights. If your headlights seem too dim, ask your mechanic to make sure they’re aligned properly.
Watch out for deer. Autumn marks the beginning of deer breeding season and they will be more active in areas near the road, says the PennDOT. Deer are most active during sunset and sunrise so be extra watchful when driving near the woods and near deer crossing signs.