Fall driving can be unpredictable because of weather changes, the end of daylight saving time and the start of school. These guidelines can help keep you, and others, safe while on the road.
Watch for Children. Early in the school year, children often haven’t developed the habit of looking for moving traffic before they cross the road leaving a school bus. It’s illegal to motor past a stopped bus in most places. And buses are beginning to use cameras to catch people who do drive by when the “Stop” arms are extended and the lights are flashing. Older children driving to and from school are a danger, and in danger, too. Fall driving for teen crashes spike in September as children head back to school, and happen more often during hours when school begins and lets out.
Time Change. Darkness comes earlier anyway as the year ages, and that’s accelerated when clocks most places in the U.S. shift back to standard time in early November. While just 25 percent of our driving is at night, 50 percent of traffic deaths occur then. Also, a 50-year-old driver might need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old. And at 60 years and older, we generally see road signs less clearly, we have more trouble judging speed and distance, and glare begins to bother us more.
Animals Crossing. You’re 3.5 times more likely to hit an animal — especially a deer — in November than at any other time of the year. Deer are likely to be mating in November and that’s why you see more of them. About 1 of every 100 drivers will hit a deer during the driver’s life behind the wheel.
Fall Dampness. We think of big puddles as dangerous, and they are, because the front wheels can float, called hydroplaning, and you lose steering. But even before the puddles accumulate, rain — especially if it’s the first in a while — can pool on the oil, grime and dust that are on all roads and make the pavement slick. It also can mix with fallen leaves that are abundant in the fall and create a slippery surface.
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