Autumn is a time for changing leaves, stunning colors, and crisp temperatures. Despite its majesty, fall weather can be unpredictable. Its seasonal changes can affect driving conditions and increase the risk of accidents. While many consider winter a hazardous time on roadways, the annual transition from summer to autumn can catch even the safest drivers off guard.
With that in mind, here are recommendations for staying safe while driving in the fall.
Prepare for later sunrises and earlier sunsets.
From now until the end of autumn, days will become increasingly shorter. As a result, the sun appears lower in the sky during morning and evening rush hours, and the resulting glare makes driving visually tricky.
Keeping your windshield clean and free of streaks and smudges can help combat the glare from a sunny horizon. And don’t get caught without sunglasses when driving in the fall.
Remember, the earlier dusk and dawn darkness can sneak up on you, making it suddenly challenging to see children playing outdoors, crossing streets, or walking to and from school bus stops. Slow down to give yourself more time to stop.
Beware the night.
Autumn brings the end of Daylight Savings Time and increased nighttime driving. And according to the National Safety Council, half of all traffic fatalities occur at night.
Driving at night is dangerous because darkness limits visibility and diminishes our depth perception, peripheral vision, and color distinction. What’s more, headlight glare from oncoming traffic can daze drivers. Those factors can impact your ability to react in unsafe situations.
Our bodies associate darkness with sleep, so it’s natural to feel drowsy driving during evening commutes—especially in the wake of Daylight Savings Time’s end. Make sure you are well rested and avoid driving when tired.
Slowing down can compensate for reduced visibility and shorter stopping times.
Watch out for fog.
Fog often accompanies cool morning temperatures, making it harder to see and be seen on the road. Slow down to adjust for reduced visibility while keeping plenty of distance between your car and other vehicles.