Well, summer has certainly left us. With the states currently being battered by high winds and storms, fall is definitely upon us, and those pleasant, summer driving outings can be considered long gone. Moving forward, it’ll be all about hot chocolates, cozy nights in, and making sure that we’re safe on the roads. Fall – and, looking forward, winter – presents a number of hazards which, if we’re not careful, can pose a risk while we’re driving around town. Below, we outline some of the dangers you need to be looking out for.
Check Your Car
Our cars get a pretty smooth ride during the spring and summer months. They’re not tested in the same way they are during the fall, and even if something goes wrong, we’re usually just left stranded on a beautiful summer day. No great loss. That’s not the case in the fall and winter when cars are tested to the brink. Before the weather gets even more gloomy, make sure you’re checking that your vehicle is in good working condition. Check it’s topped up with the necessary fluids, that the battery and brakes are working well, the tires are fully inflated, and that the heater is ready to do its job.
Fast Weather Changes
We’re currently in a transition period between summer and fall. That means the weather doesn’t really know what it’s doing; one moment, it’ll be a sunny end of summer day, and then the next there’ll be dark storm clouds overhead. From seemingly nowhere, the roads can all of a sudden become hazardous, and driving a thread to the safety of you and your passengers. Be prepared to wait out the inclement weather until it’s safe to continue, or cut your journey short if bad weather strikes.
Leaves on the Road
Fall is a magical time, full of beautiful colors on the trees. That’s all good and well, but those leaves are falling, and creating slippery conditions on the road surface. If you’re visiting the country to engage in a spot of leaf-peeping, make sure you’re extra careful when you’re handling those tight mountain corners. If you live in an area that has a lot of leaves on the ground, regularly check under your vehicle, around the tires, to ensure that leaves aren’t clogging up the mechanics of your vehicle.
We’re about to get hit with a lot of rain, and perhaps even flooded roads. This can cause danger to your car in a number of ways, including the torrential rains beating down and obscuring your view, and the roads that are holding too much water. Before you set off driving on what will be a rainy day, make sure your windscreen wipers are in full working order. On the roads, always drive a little bit more slowly than you usually would, and be conscious of how your steering feels; if it feels abnormally light, then you might be aquaplaning, which means your tires have lost contact with the road. Ease off the accelerator until your steering returns to normal weight.
The nights are getting darker, which cause problems on their own, but there’s also the matter of lower light. You might be driving in great light at 6 pm one week, then the following morning 6 pm is suddenly much darker, but you haven’t noticed. Pay extra attention to how much light there is, especially to and from work; even if you think you can see fine, other drives won’t be able to see you! The sun will be setting earlier, and if you’re driving west, then you might have to compete with blinding sunlight. Keep your windscreen completely clean, and make sure you’re using your sun visor.
Fall is an excellent time to go wildlife watching. Unfortunately, since wildlife lacks a map, it often finds its way onto the roads, right in the line of your oncoming car. In non-urban areas, drivers often to deal with deer, which are most active during the fall season (also during dawn/dusk, to make matters worse). If you’re driving in an area populated with deer, be extra vigilant when looking for hazards and be careful when going around bends.
Fall and winter is a time to enjoy with other people, but not on the roads, when other people are a danger. In fact, it’s this time of year when drivers are most likely to need the services of a car wreck lawyer. Why? Because it takes knowledge and skill to drive when the weather outside is bad, and most people don’t have this information or skill set. It’s true everywhere, but, paradoxically, truer in areas that always get inclement weather, as some drivers who are used to living with such conditions ignore the safety precautions. To keep yourself safe, keep a gap between you and the driver in front of you, and never speed up just because a driver behind you is becoming impatient.
Fall is also a time when we get high winds. They can come from seemingly nowhere, as the most dangerous winds are usually confined to a few specific areas on a journey, such as bridges. If there’s a high wind warning where you live, drive extra carefully. You should also keep two hands on the wheel at all times, and keep a distance between your vehicle and large trucks, as they are more susceptible to turn over.
Have Supplies in the Back
You can’t always stop things going wrong when you’re in your vehicle. But you can always be prepared. For instance, make sure that you have a fully stocked emergency car kit in the back of your vehicle, which should include bottles of water, a basic car repair kit, blankets, and a torch, among other items. Now’s a good time to check that your spare tire is in good condition, and to triple check that you’ll know how to change it if you’re in a pinch!
Take the advice above, and you’ll have pleasant fall and winter driving experiences.
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