Stay Safe With These Fall Driving Tips
Fall is a fun time of year for a lot of reasons, like Halloween, fall color, trips to the cider mill, and the return of football season, just to name a few. But it can also make driving a bit more difficult. Between reduced amounts of daylight, unpredictable weather, and increased animal activity, there are lots of hazards drivers need to be aware of. Even though we don’t (usually) have to worry much about snow during the fall months, you might be surprised to learn that, according to the NHTSA, the month of October had the highest amount of fatal car accidents in 2018 while February actually had the lowest amount.
Before you hit the road during this time of year, whether you’re taking a late-season road trip or are just running some errands around town, here are a few ways you can make your trip a safe one and hopefully avoid having to call a car accident lawyer.
Be Careful of Leaves
Leaves are a big part of the fall season and as beautiful as they are, they can pose a danger when they fall into the road. Fall can be a very rainy time of year and once the rain hits those fallen leaves, they can be extremely slippery. Be very careful when driving over wet leaves and try to avoid braking on them if it’s at all possible. Wet leaves can easily be as slippery as ice, but if they’re in a shaded area and temperatures have dropped low enough, they might actually be icy.
Even if it hasn’t rained recently, remember that leaves on the road might be hiding lines, road markings, potholes, or other hazards in the road. Proceed with caution and remember to pay attention to the edge of the road if you’re having a hard time seeing the lines in the road.
If you live in an area that’s known for its beautiful fall color, remember that there might be more traffic than usual as people visit to check out the scenery. So if you see someone driving at a slower than normal speed on a tree-lined road, especially if they have out-of-state license plates, increase your following distance to give them a little extra room in case they stop suddenly.
Check Your Car
As the leaves start to turn colors, it’s time to check a few things on your car, like your windshield wipers. Not only can rain make the road more slippery, it can also make it harder to see while you’re driving, so early fall is a great time of year to replace your windshield wiper blades. A clean windshield will also help make it easier for you to see if you have a lot of glare hitting your windshield.
With the temperatures dropping, it’s also a good time to check the pressure on your car’s tires. Since coldness causes particles to contract, the air in your tires might not be exerting as much pressure on your tires as they were in the middle of July.
Don’t Veer for Deer
An unfortunate reality for Michigan drivers is that there’s a very high risk of being involved in a car accident with a deer. About 50,000 accidents involving deer are reported in Michigan every year, and since fall is deer mating season, a lot of those accidents happen during this time of year. Deer are most likely to be active at dusk and dawn, so be particularly watchful when driving during those times, but remember that accidents can happen at any point of the day. Also, keep in mind that deer very frequently travel in groups, so if you see one deer, there’s a good chance that other deer may be nearby.
Even though nobody wants to hit a deer, Michigan State Police advises a “don’t veer for deer” rule. Many of the most serious car-deer accidents were caused when the driver swerved to avoid a deer, and ended up causing their vehicle to roll over or hit another vehicle or object instead. If you know there’s no way to avoid hitting a deer, brake firmly and hold the steering wheel to bring your car to a stop. After the accident, move your vehicle to the side of the road if possible, put on your emergency flashers, and report the accident to the police and your insurance company.
Use Your Headlights
Now that the days are getting shorter, it’s extremely important to use your headlights. Children may still be out playing when it starts getting dark, many bicyclists are still out riding, and lots of joggers are trying to enjoy being able to run outside while they can. Using your headlights will make it easier for you to spot them and make you more visible to other people.
Not only are we losing daylight, fog is also a pretty common occurrence during this time of year. A lot of people think that they’re supposed to use their high beams in fog, but this can actually create glare and make it harder to see. Using your low beams is just fine for helping you see better and increasing your visibility.
Watch Out for Glare
With the hours of daylight changing, you might experience a lot of strong glare from the sun at times you didn’t during the summer. Make sure you keep an extra pair of sunglasses in your car and keep your windshield clean. If it’s at all possible, try to stick to roads that run north/south instead of east/west if it’s close to sunrise or sunset to try and reduce the amount of glare you encounter.
Contact a Michigan Car Accident Lawyer
Even if you do everything you can to stay safe while driving in the fall, it’s still possible to get hurt by someone who isn’t as careful. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, don’t hesitate to contact a car accident lawyer. The Law Offices of Goodwin & Scieszka is highly experienced in handling Michigan car accident cases and we’re ready to help you. Contact us to get started.