Fall can bring its own set of hazards that can result in damage or injury if you’re behind the wheel and are not paying attention to the changing season, which is why for the month of October, we decided to focus on items requiring special attention this fall.
Perhaps you’re already used to the back-to-school traffic. However, maybe the kids crossing the street aren’t, and new student drivers with a lack of expertise and that of their peers are not as cautious. So stay alert in school zones for kids walking and young, inexperienced drivers leaving the premises and picking up friends or siblings.
Most states require you to stop in most situations for a school bus with its red flashers on. Because this law is violated frequently, buses now use cameras to catch people who drive by when the “Stop” arms are extended and the lights are flashing.
“When Daylight Saving Time ends, many people will find themselves spending more time driving in the dark,” the National Safety Council warns. “Depth perception, color recognition,, and peripheral vision can be compromised in the dark, and the glare of headlights from an oncoming vehicle can temporarily blind a driver.” Even though only 25 percent of our driving is at night, more than 50 percent of traffic deaths occur after dark, according to the council, a not-for-profit founded in 1913 to reduce preventable deaths.
Did you know that a 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old? And at 60 and older, we generally see road signs less clearly, have more trouble judging speed and distance and are bothered more when headlights glare, according to the American Optometric Association.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, you are 3.5 times more likely to hit an animal, especially a deer, than at any other time of the year in November. Deer are likely to be mating this month, and that’s why you see more of them. An adult deer can weigh 300 pounds or more. That will make an impact! Did you know that approximately 1 of every 100 drivers will hit a deer during the driver’s life behind the wheel?
As leaves litter the road, motorists often park farther from the curb to accommodate piles. Leaves also create puddles that block drainage and cover potholes and pavement markings. They also prompt bicyclists to stray from their designated lanes and also turns into a slippery mess when they cover the road during rain. Wet leaves create a mat and reduce traction on the roadway, no matter how new your tires are.
Now enters the leaf seekers. You know the ones if you live in some areas of the country; even locals can be prone to slowing down if a magnificent display of color catches their eyes. With both leaf peeping admirers and fallen foliage, ensure you have plenty of stopping distance to avoid a rear-end accident.
Tires with enough tread perform better on rainy surfaces. They also stop faster and steer better on dry roads. Also, keeping proper tire pressure helps keep you deriving safely. Expect your tires to drop at least 1 pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure every month at all times of the year.
With temperature variances in the fall, your air pressure changes accelerate. Tires often drop another pound per square inch of pressure for every 10 degrees of temperature drop. Check your tire pressure with a good gauge from an auto parts store when the car’s been sitting for two or three hours to optimize fuel economy. The recommended pressure is listed on a decal pasted on the driver’s side door jamb or the door and also in the owner’s manual.
Please remember that the pressure listed on the tire sidewall itself is a maximum and not the recommended inflation level.
We usually think of big puddles as dangerous, and they are because front wheels can float, causing a loss of steering. When this happens, it is called hydroplaning. Even before the puddles form, rain can pool on dust, grime, and oil that are on all roads making pavement slippery. It’s especially true if your area hasn’t had good rain. How do you prevent hydroplaning? Slowing down helps; also, if you’re on a busy road, try driving in the tracks of cars ahead of you where the road is driest.
The blinding sun’s glare becomes stronger in the fall. This may sound wrong, but the sun moves closer to the horizon, causing it to shine straight into your eyes, making it more likely to reflect at low angles off buildings, other cars, and windows. What can you do about this? Keep your sunglasses handy, and avoid looking directly into the lights of oncoming traffic when you drive at night. Be sure to keep your windshield clear so dirt streaks don’t contribute to the glare.
Chilly autumn mornings often bring fog, reducing your vision and depth perception. This is a perfect time to use those fog lights. Fog lights shine wide and provide low beams of light along the road and onto the edges of a street, which is also helpful for critter spotting. Use them in addition to your regular low-beam headlights, and avoid using your high beams. High beams worsen your visibility because the bright light bounces off the fog and right back into your eyes. And remember to slow down.
We live in a temperate and dry area. And when we decide to take a road trip, we can experience driving conditions outside our everyday driving experience and comfort zone. That means the challenges listed above can be even more daunting because you don’t have the muscle memory to react smoothly. Be sure to leave plenty of space between you and the drive ahead.
We hope that our blog filled with driving tips is helpful, and the team at Foothill Auto Service wishes you safe driving. At Foothill Auto Service, we are proud to provide you with the best in-house 3-year/36,000-mile guarantee in the Lake Forest area and a TechNet 36-month/36,000-mile warranty in case you are traveling. Call our friendly service desk today or schedule an appointment online so we can take great care of you and your vehicle.
We look forward to seeing you soon!