Summer is behind us, and as the temperatures continue to drop, it is a good time to brush up on safe-driving tips for autumn. The new season brings its own roadway hazards that can lead to injuries and property damage if you are not cautious. We will tell you how to navigate these common driving hazards so you can stay safe and accident-free this fall.
Children and Pedestrians
School is back in session, and drivers are sharing the road with children walking to and from the bus stop and school. Remember that children are unpredictable. They may not always stop to cross at intersections and crosswalks. Reduce your speed in school and residential areas.
Know the law when it comes to stopping for stopped buses. Motorists who illegally pas stopped school buses are a leading cause of pedestrian fatalities among children. On one-way roads and two-lane roads, vehicles in all lanes must stop at least 20 feet from the bus.
If you live or work near a local high school, you are also likely to come across inexperienced teen drivers. Proceed with caution and be patient when driving near young drivers. We were all new drivers at one time and should remember it takes time and experience behind the wheel to improve.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers are 3.5 times more likely to hit a deer in November than any other time of the year, because it is rutting and hunting season. Considering that an adult deer can weigh up to 300 pounds, the risk of serious injuries and property damage from impact with a deer is fairly high.
Be extra vigilant this fall, especially at dusk and dawn when deer tend to be more active. Deer often travel in groups. If you see one cross the road, more are likely to follow.
Use your high beams on empty roads to light the road ahead. If you encounter a deer, keep driving straight. Sudden breaking or swerving can lead to an accident—either with the deer or another vehicle on the road. In Illinois, drivers should also be vigilant for turkey, coyotes, rabbits, and foxes on the road that are looking for food and preparing for winter.
Autumn foliage in Illinois can be breathtaking, but we all know leaves do not last forever. As the leaves fall and become wet with the dew and rain, they create a slick surface that prevents tires from getting traction. Wet leaves can actually be slicker than ice!
Leaves also cover potholes, puddles, and other roadway hazards that can cause an accident or damage your vehicle. The best approach to driving on leaf-covered roads is to slow down, increase your following distance, and know what to do if you do skid out.
If you hydroplane on a slippery surface, take your feet off the gas. Stop accelerating and braking. Turn the wheel in the direction you want to go and want for the vehicle to recover traction. You may need to turn the wheel back in the opposite direction to stop turning and stay on your desired path.
Fall is also a good time to check the tread and tire pressure in your tires. Properly inflated tires provide better traction and are less likely to blowout.
Fog and Frost
Chilly autumn mornings may trigger fog, which limits your visibility and distance perception. If your vehicle has fog lights, use them. They are designed to shine wide and low along the road and sides of the street. They are intended for use along with your low-beam light—not instead of your regular headlights.
While it seems logical to use your high beams on foggy days where you cannot see far ahead, that bright light will actually be reflected back to you by the fog, making it even more challenging to see the road. In areas where moisture has turned to frost, slow down and increase your following distance to reduce the chance of skids and allow more time and distance to stop if you need to.
Darkness, Daylight Savings Time, and Sun Glare
Daylight saving time ends the first Sunday in November. That means many Illinois drivers will be spending more time driving in the dark. The National Safety Council cautions that, “depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision can be compromised in the dark, and the glare of headlights from an oncoming vehicle can temporary blind a driver.”
When driving at night, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of a fall car accident. First, clean your headlights, mirrors, and windows to reduce glare and improve visibility. If you wear prescription glasses, anti-reflective lenses are recommended. Avoid looking directly into oncoming headlights and instead, look to the right edge of your lane until the other vehicle passes. As with all of our fall safe-driving tips, a defensive approach to driving is an effective way to identify and react to hazards before they lead to an accident.
An Emergency Kit is Essential for Every Vehicle
Unfortunately, even if you are a cautious and responsible driver, you cannot prevent every accident or equipment malfunction. In cooler weather, is it especially important to be prepared for emergencies. A vehicle emergency kit should contain the essentials to keep you safe and warm until help arrives, like water and non-perishable foods, warm blankets, hats, and gloves, warning flares, and a portable phone charger to start. Always let someone know where you are going and check the weather and traffic before you head out.
Edwardsville Car Accident Lawyers at The Cates Law Firm Represent Clients Injured by Careless Drivers
Between injuries, medical bills, and auto repairs, auto crashes are much more than a minor nuisance. Our skilled Edwardsville car accident lawyers at the Cates Law Firm understand the challenges clients face after a serious collision. We manage your case from start to finish and work to achieve a good outcome for you. Call 618-277-3644 or contact the firm online to schedule a free consultation today. From our home office in Swansea, we represent clients in and around Belleville, Carbondale, East St. Louis, Granite City, Edwardsville, Chester, Waterloo, St. Louis, Madison County, St. Clair County, Monroe County, and Randolph County, Illinois.