As wonderful a time of year the fall season is, the changing weather and higher traffic volume bring driving risks. It gets dark earlier, fog and frost return, and the changing leaves create hazards when they eventually fall onto the road. The fall season also features the busiest time of the year for travel – the week of Thanksgiving. Review these fall driving safety risks and some tips for staying safe on Washington’s roads this autumn.
Weather Changes Pose Driving Risks in the Fall
Darkness. It gets dark earlier in the autumn. Daylight savings time ends November 5. And the days are shorter in the fall. After the long days of summer, the earlier darkness can sneak up on you. If you have difficulty driving at night, plan your travel so you will be finished driving before sundown. Use your headlights at dawn and dusk to make your car more visible to other drivers.
Rain showers. Make sure your tires are well-inflated, your brakes are well-maintained, your windshield wiper blades are in good shape, and your wiper fluid reservoir is full. Even a quick rain shower can create slick roads and a streaked mess across your windshield, so be sure to prepare your vehicle for the rain.
Fog and frost. Fog rolls in during autumn, so be on guard for it in areas that are prone to fog. Frost revisits us as well in the fall. Scrape off your windshield, your back window, and all other windows before driving. Keep your headlights on low beam in fog, rain, and frost to prevent glare to other drivers. Reduce your speed and allow more distance between cars so you will have time to react to obstacles on the road.
Road Conditions Change in the Fall
Falling leaves. The roads may have leaves and other debris on them in the autumn. This debris makes the roads slick, which can cause your tires to lose traction. The debris can also mask potholes and other road hazards and could obscure traffic lines. Try not to brake when driving on wet leaves, as they can be slippery.
Sun glare. As the sun goes further to the south, it may be hard to see traffic lights and other signals. Slow down and use appropriate sun visors to block the glare. Keep your windshield clean and free of dust and smudges, inside and out, to increase your ability to see what is ahead on the road. Keep sunglasses handy to shield your eyes from the sunlight. Try not to look directly into the headlights of oncoming traffic when you are driving at night.
Lower temperatures. The change in temperature can cause your tires to lose pressure. Monitor your tire pressure regularly and add air when necessary to keep your tires properly inflated. Cooler temperatures can also make the roads slick, particularly on bridges and overpasses. Adjust your speed accordingly.
Watch for Children in the Fall
Now that children are back in school, you should exercise greater caution at school crossings and near schools. Reduce your speed around schools, parks, and places where children tend to play or walk. Never drive around a stopped school bus or one that is using flashing lights. Wait until the bus driver indicates that all the children have reached safety.
Watch for Wildlife in the Fall
Wildlife tends to be on the move in the fall, particularly around dawn and dusk. Keep a careful lookout for deer and other wildlife. Slow down in areas where deer and other wildlife frequent.
Autumn May Affect Drivers’ Attention and Focus
There are two components to the issue of inattention: the inattentiveness of other drivers and your own focus. It is easy to be distracted by the beauty of fall foliage and the seasonal decorations people place outside their homes. And the holidays bring higher traffic volume, especially during the week of Thanksgiving. Keep your focus on the road and be mindful that other drivers may not give driving their full attention.
We hope you enjoy the spectacular autumn scenery we have here in Washington. If you suffer injuries in an accident that was not your fault, call Max Meyers Law at to set up a free consultation.