Why Autumn Driving is Different
PennDOT reminds motorists that wet leaves, fog, sun glare and frost are a few driving hazards that they will encounter this fall but there are steps drivers can take to help make their commutes safer. The Just Drive PA site is full of outstanding tips.
As leaves begin to fall, wet leaves on the roadway can be as slippery as ice. They also can obscure traffic lines and other pavement markings, making driving in unfamiliar areas particularly difficult. Motorists should slow down and use extra caution on leaf-covered roadways.
Other fall hazards for motorists can be fog and sun glare. When driving in fog, motorists should use low beam headlights since the high beam setting creates glare and reduces visibility. Not only will headlights enhance visibility of your vehicle, state law requires headlights be on when wipers are in use.
Sun glare can be most problematic during sunrise and sunset which coincide with morning and evening rush hours. The intense glare from the sun on the horizon can blind a driver, causing an unexpected traffic slowdown. Drivers can prepare for the glare by keeping a set of sunglasses handy, removing clutter from their sun visors and keeping the inside of their vehicle´s windshield clean.
Also, morning frost and icy spots on the road can also cause problems as overnight temperatures drop toward freezing. Motorists should pay particular attention to bridges, overpasses and shaded areas on roadways where icy spots can form on the pavement. In addition to exercising caution while driving, motorists should clear their vehicles´ windows of frost before travel.
PennDOT offers the following driving tips:
- Increase your following distance in severe weather, at dusk and dawn and when in an area with wet leaves. If you are being tailgated, let the other driver pass.
- Check your vehicle´s headlights, taillights and turn signals to ensure they are working properly since darkness will be a part of many driver´s morning and/or evening commutes. Make sure you turn on your headlights as the sunlight fades.
- Have your vehicle´s heating and wiper systems checked to ensure they are working properly.
- Be sure you have tires with sufficient tread depth in case of an early season snow.
Fall Roadway Hazards Include Deer
Autumn brings an increase in deer activity, and drivers are reminded to watch carefully for deer darting across and along roadways.
Fall marks the deer´s breeding season and deer pay less attention and become bolder as they move around more and travel greater distances seeking mates. Primarily nocturnal feeders, deer are most active between sunset and sunrise. Other factors which affect the travel patterns of deer in the fall are farmers actively harvesting the last of their crops and preparing for spring planting, increased activity in the woods from hunters seeking game and outdoor enthusiasts enjoying the last remaining days of good weather.
By following a few safety tips, motorists and outdoor enthusiasts can help reduce the possibility of being involved in a crash with a deer. Remember to:
- Slow down and use caution, particularly where deer crossing signs are posted and increase following distance between vehicles;
- Make young drivers aware of increased deer movement;
- Be especially watchful during morning and evening hours when wildlife is most active;
- Exercise caution when one deer crosses a roadway. Since deer often travel in small herds, one deer will usually be followed by others;
- Always wear your seat belt;
- Never drive impaired; and
- Turn on your headlights if your wipers are on – it´s the law.
If a dead deer presents an obvious safety hazard on state roadways, motorists can call 1-800-FIX-ROAD to have the deer removed.