Everyone knows that winter can bring driving challenges, with snow and ice sometimes covering the roadways. But did you know that fall can be just as hazardous?
Those beautiful colorful leaves that we all admire can cause slippery roads, especially after a rainfall. Wheels can easily lose traction when driving over them, especially if you’re going at a high rate of speed. Those leaves can also cover up traffic lines and mask potholes and other hazards. Children also like to play in leaf piles, so don’t ever drive over one.
In addition, fall means that kids are back in school and playing sports, so there are more cars and buses on the roads. Keep in mind that it’s not only illegal, but dangerous to pass a school bus when its lights are flashing. Being later for work or an appointment isn’t worth risking a child’s safety. Open schools bring more pedestrian traffic as well, especially in the mornings and early afternoons.
Fall is also deer mating season, and those gentle creatures can cause major accidents when running out into the roads. Keep your eyes open, especially around dawn and dusk. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety cautions that you’re 3.5 times more likely to hit an animal — especially a deer — in November than at any other time of the year.
Another important thing to do is to check your tire pressure. According to http://www.AARP.org, “Since fall weather rapidly changes from warm to cold, your tires will often expand and contract. This can lead to a loss of pressure.” Improperly inflated tires can lead to loss of control if you need to make a sudden stop and even cause blowouts. Also make sure the treads on your tires are sufficient to maintain traction on the road.
So, what can you do to keep yourself and others on the road safe this season? Drive a little slower, keep your distance from the car in front of you, maintain your vehicle properly, including keeping the windshields clean, and as always, pay attention to your driving and environment, whether it be road conditions, other drivers, pedestrians or wildlife.
Contributing Author: Susan Baldani, a life member of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.
Published in local news outlets.