Fall driving can be unpredictable because of weather changes and the end of daylight saving time. To be safe and aware on the roads this fall, follow these guidelines:
- Watch out for leaves: Once leaves become wet, they can present slippery and dangerous driving conditions. Be sure to watch for patches of wet leaves on the road or on road lines. Dry leaves can also present a problem to your vehicle. Avoid parking your vehicle near leaf piles to prevent fires that could start from your vehicle’s catalytic converter.
- Stay alert on the road: The end of daylight saving time means reduced visibility on the roads, which can create unfamiliar driving conditions. Even on familiar roads, it’s important that motorists use additional caution and adjust their driving habits to watch for pedestrians, cyclists and other roadway users who will be less visible, especially during the first week of the change.
- Check your tire pressure: With frequent weather and temperature changes, tires can expand and contract, causing them to lose air pressure. Make sure tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread.
- Avoid sun glare: With the change in time you may need to adjust to the different morning or late afternoon glare from the sun. The glare can cause reflections off car windows and hoods and decrease your visibility. Have a good pair of sunglasses readily available to counter daytime glare, and consider lenses with anti-reflective coating to reduce glare when night driving can’t be avoided.
- Plan ahead for wet conditions: Fall often brings rainfall, which can decrease visibility and cause hydroplaning. Make sure your windshield wipers are in good working condition. If driving on a road with excess water, slow down and avoid sudden movements with the steering wheel or brake pedal. If you feel like you’re floating, steer straight and gently release the gas pedal until you feel the tires make contact with the road surface. In an especially heavy downpour you may want to pull off the road until it’s safe to continue.
- Low beams in the fog: When driving in fog, high beams will reflect off the fog, creating a “white wall” effect, so set your headlight to low beam. This setting aims the beam of light down toward the roadway. Also reduce your speed and watch your speedometer. Fog creates a visual illusion of slow motion when you may actually be speeding. If fog becomes really thick use your road markers to guide you and help you to stay in your lane.
- Watch out for deer: Deer collisions account for hundreds of accidents each year in Mississippi. Deer are more apt to run into the roadway especially at dawn and dusk since the fall is an active breeding time. If you see a deer cross the roadway, proceed very slowly as they often travel in groups. You can not only harm the deer but do great damage to your car as well.