It’s a beautiful time of year. The fall colors are starting to dazzle and the cooler temperatures are more comfortable. Everyone wants to get outside and enjoy the weather and see the sights before the onset of winter.
But with the change in seasons come changes in our driving habits, too. Road conditions change, different hazards arise, and our visibility can be impacted by various factors. Let’s review some fall driving safety tips for you and your fleet drivers.
Leaves are beautiful to look at when they’re ablaze with color on the trees. When they’re on the ground, they can become a driving hazard.
Wet leaves can be slippery, almost like ice. Use caution when braking on a roadway with wet leaves. Slow down on curves and avoid hard braking. Your vehicle will take much longer to stop on a wet surface, particularly one covered with wet leaves. Adjust your speed and leave a longer following distance.
Fallen leaves, even when dry, present hazards, too. They can cover the paint lane markings on the road, concealing the lane size and turn directions. This is particularly dangerous at night, when sight distance is shorter.
Leaves piled along the side of the road can cover surface hazards such as:
- Open sewer grates
- Roadside rain gullies
The fall colors aren’t just a distraction for you. Other drivers are also drawn to their beauty. In your travels, or on delivery runs, you might come across slower drivers, distracted drivers, or those who make unpredictable stops. Again, give yourself plenty of distance, and don’t be one of the leaf admirers yourself while behind the wheel.
And please, don’t ride through piles of leaves. Remember, someone could be playing in them.
Sun, frost, and deer, oh my
When driving at sunrise or sunset, especially in fall, visibility can be a major problem. During this time of year, the glare can be intense due to the low sun angle, especially on east/west roadways. Keep those sunglasses handy.
Another way to reduce glare is to keep your windshield clean and free from smears. When you gas up, take time to clean the windshield, as well.
This time of year can also bring more precipitation and fluctuating temperatures. Rain and fog are more present, so use proper driving skills depending on conditions.
When driving in poor visibility conditions, use low-beam headlights so other drivers can see you better. You may be able to see other vehicles, but the motorcyclist with a rain soaked visor, the pedestrian with poor eyesight, or the driver with misted up windows may mistake you for a gap in traffic.
Bridges can pose their own unique challenges this time of year. With lower temperatures, morning frost can make for slippery conditions on bridges that you won’t find on surrounding roads. Slow down and use caution.
Another increased hazard in fall are deer. Deer are in the throes of mating season in fall, and they are more active during sunrise and sunset. Stay alert and allow room between vehicles in case hard braking is needed.
Finally, be sure your vehicles are properly maintained. Ensure your tires, brakes, wipers, and heater are in good working order. How’s your defroster working? You’ll need it on those foggy or cold mornings.
Also, check your tire pressure on a regular basis. Tires can lose 1–2 pounds of pressure for every 10-degree temperature drop. Properly inflated tires aid in keeping control of your vehicle.
As usual when it comes to being behind the wheel, staying alert, slowing down, and avoiding distractions will help you get to your destination safely.
For more information on safety preparation for your business, check out the Hortica Resources section.