Many people look forward to the fall for the changing leaves, cooler temperatures, and all things pumpkin spice. However, the change in season also ushers in a range of road hazards that can increase the risk of a serious car accident. Fortunately, by being aware of your surroundings, obeying the rules of the road and making safety a top priority when driving during the fall season, you can avoid a serious, or life-threatening accident. If you are involved in a car accident this fall, you are urged to contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
What Are the Top Driving Dangers in the Fall?
When it comes to hazardous road conditions that are weather-related, people often think about snow, ice and freezing rain that occurs during the winter. While these certainly do cause roadways to become slippery and potentially unsafe, there are a range of hazards that occur in the fall that can cause driving conditions to become treacherous if you are not paying close attention to your surroundings and taking the necessary steps to stay safe, whether you are driving on a quiet country road or a busy highway. The following are examples of some of the most common driving hazards that are unique to the fall season:
- Wet leaves: As beautiful as the fall foliage is when the leaves change from green to bright orange and yellow and red, once they fall on the ground they accumulate into piles where they can hide things like potholes and lane lines. When the leaves become wet from rain, they can become just as slippery as a patch of ice, making it very difficult to slow down or stop quickly if you are trying to avoid another vehicle, a bicyclist or a pedestrian.
- Time change: Daylight Saving ends on Sunday, November 6, which means that the clocks get moved an hour earlier. While that means an extra hour of sleep, the “fall back” time change means that it gets dark much earlier. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), depth perception, color recognition and peripheral visions are just a few things that can be compromised when you are driving when it is dark outside. There is also an increased risk of drowsy driving when the sun goes down. The NSC found that while 25 percent of motorists’ driving is done at night, 50 percent of traffic fatalities occur during the evening hours.
- Wild animals: According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), motorists are 3.5 times more likely to hit a deer or other wild animal in November, compared to any other time of year. This is more likely to occur in wooded, rural areas, but wild animals can dart across busy highways and residential areas as well.
- Tire pressure: Maintaining the proper tire pressure ensures that the tires have enough tread, and that they are better able to steer and stop on a range of road conditions. Tires generally drop roughly one pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure each month. When the temperature drops, so does the tire pressure. For every ten degrees of temperature drop, the tires wo;; drop an additional PSI. Make sure that you check the tire pressure at the beginning of the season and inflate the tires as needed.
- Damp roads: While heavy rainfall can cause roadways to become slippery and large puddles to form wherever there are potholes, even a light rain can make the roads very slick, particularly when the rain water mixes with the oil and grime that is on the road. This can increase the risk of hydroplaning, which is a dangerous driving condition that occurs when water gets in front of your tires faster than the weight of your vehicles can push it out of the way. As a result, your tires end up actually floating on a small patch of water. If you start hydroplaning, it can be difficult to maintain control of your vehicle. Always steer into the direction that the car is hydroplaning. This will help the tires realign and help you regain control of your car.
- Sun glare: Due to the time change, the sun is setting when many people are commuting home from work at the end of the day. If you are facing the sun while driving, it can impair your vision, particularly if your windshield is dirty. Always keep a pair of sunglasses in the car and keep your windshield clean.
- Fog and frost: Fog is common in the mornings during the fall season. When the temperature plummets, the moisture that has accumulated on windshields and windows can freeze and turn to frost. Both of these conditions can reduce visibility and distance perception. Avoid using your high beams during foggy conditions.
What Steps Can I Take to Avoid a Car Accident in the Fall?
Every time the seasons change, it is a good idea to make sure that your vehicle is in good working condition, and that any repairs that need to be made are taken care of as soon as possible. The following are additional safety tips that you should keep in mind as the weather continues to change:
- Check all belts, hoses, and fluid levels: This will ensure that there are no leaks or tears in any of the hoses, and that all of the necessary fluids are topped off, including windshield wiper fluid, transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid and power steering.
- Check the tires: All four tires should be properly inflated, and the tread should be in good condition. Also make sure that your spare tire is correctly inflated and that the tread is in good condition. A mechanic can inspect your tires and determine whether they are in good condition or if they need to be replaced.
- Check the brakes: If the brake pads are failing, or they are becoming worn, they will need to be repaired as soon as possible. The cold weather increases the risk of brake problems since roads are more likely to become slippery from rain and wet leaves.
- Check the headlights and taillights: It is very important that your vehicle’s lights are working properly, particularly as we head into fall and the sun sets earlier. In addition to the headlights and taillights, make sure that your brake lights and flashers are working properly as well. If a light is broken or blown out, repair or replace the light as soon as possible.
- Keep an emergency kit in the vehicle: If your vehicle breaks down, or you are involved in an accident and you are stranded on the side of the road, it is important that you have a well-stocked emergency kit in the car. This should include the following items:
- Ice scraper
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Non-perishable snacks and bottled water
- Jumper cables
- Pay attention to pedestrians. Halloween is around the corner, which means that there will be excited children out and about trick-or-treating. Unfortunately, young children sometimes dart across the street without looking, which can have devastating consequences if a motorist does not see the child until it is too late. Slow down and pay close attention to the road and pedestrians who may be crossing the street.
- Know what to do if you hit a deer. fall is mating season for deer, which means that they are more active this time of year and may be more likely to dart across the street. Pay close attention to your surroundings, particularly if you are driving during the dusk or dawn hours as deer tend to be most active at these times when visibility is also an issue for motorists. Deer also typically travel in groups, so if you see one deer cross the street, there may be others in the vicinity. If you do see a deer while you are driving, do not swerve to avoid hitting it as this may cause you to lose control of your vehicle, which can result in a more serious accident than if you hit the deer. If you do hit a deer, pull over to the side of the road, turn your hazard lights on and report the accident to the local police department. Never touch the animal or try to comfort a wounded deer. A scared animal could cause more harm to itself, or to you if you approach it.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Represent Victims of Weather-Related Car Accidents
If you or someone you know is injured in a car accident during the fall season, do not hesitate to contact the Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC. Our dedicated legal team will protect your rights pursue the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. We will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online. Our office is located in Virginia Beach, Virginia where we serve clients from Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore.