When people think of serious weather conditions that can impact driving, they often think of sleet, snow and ice. Others may think of the downpour rains that often arrive with spring. Very few people stop to think about the dangers specific to autumn. Because of that lack of consideration, drivers may not adjust their practices to optimize safety in the fall. This can lead to serious, even fatal, crashes.
Although fall often starts out like a slightly cooler version of the summer, full of sunshine and beautiful breezes, the full force of the season typically impacts the roads in New York. When it does, drivers, pedestrians and bikers need to be ready for the potential increase in crashes and mediocre driving conditions.
Fall brings rain, fog and falling leaves
After the heat of summer, a cool fall rainstorm can feel refreshing for both people and the environment. While that may be the case, it can also lead to more slippery and dangerous driving conditions. Hydroplaning and increased braking distances can increase the risk of crashes while on the road.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the cooler temperatures can leave the roads foggy in the morning. Until the sun rises high overhead to burn off the moisture, visibility can be greatly reduced.
Both of those issues pale in comparison to the risk associated with falling leaves. Especially when leaves accumulate during periods of precipitation, they can create a risk for everyone on the road.
Wet masses of leaves can impact traction of vehicle tires, leading to problems with stopping, speeding up and turning. Leaves can also cover and obstruct potential dangers in the road, like broken bottles or potholes. Bright colored trees can also be a source of dangerous distraction.
Anyone on the road needs to adjust driving practices
Cars aren’t the only vehicles whose visibility, braking and turning can change in fall weather conditions. Motorcycles are also at risk. With only two wheels, wet conditions, fog and leaves can easily cause you to spill. Even if you don’t collide with another vehicle, broken bones, head injuries and road rash could result.
For pedestrians and cyclists, similar risks apply. Wet leaves could result in a cyclist falling off a bike or even sliding out into traffic. Because they move at slower speeds, cyclists and pedestrians may also fall victim to fall foliage. The brilliant displays of changing leaves on the occasional tree and bush nearby could distract them from paying attention to the road or sidewalk in front of them or the actions of others on the road. It only takes a second to step out in front of a fast moving vehicle.
When driving in the fall, try to avoid foggy times if at all possible. Drive at slower speeds, especially when you notice accumulated rain puddles or leaves in the road. Continue wearing sunglasses, as breakthrough sun even on cloudy days could impede your ability to see what is happening around you.