fall driving safety


Driving from Dusk til Dawn- What You Need to know!

With the days getting shorter and the sun setting earlier, there a good chance you’ll be driving between dusk and dawn more and more the next few months. Unfortunately, those can be some of the most dangerous hours to get behind the wheel.  Use these simple safety tips to keep you and your family as safe as possible when on the road.

1. Have a pair of spare sunglasses in the car– While sunsets are beautiful, driving into one can be difficult and dangerous.  The sun at that angle can be incredibly blinding.  Save your self the trouble of desperately searching for those sun glasses when that sun comes down and always keep a spare pair in your car. On the other hand, be sure to remove them as soon as the sun goes down.

2. Use headlights- the right way!– Often people don’t turn on their headlights until they realize they need them- and that’s usually too late. Contrary to popular belief, headlights should be used at all times throughout the day, including dusk and dawn.  While there may be light in the sky, the ambient light at dusk or dawn doesn’t allow for full visibility.  Even if your headlights won’t be completely effective in the ambient light, they do allow other drivers to see you more clearly. High beams or “brights” are rarely appropriate to use.  They can be extremely blinding to oncoming traffic and are not recommended for use except in rural areas with little street lights.  Even so, when using them be very aware of your surroundings. If you hear a car coming towards you, turn off your high beams immediately.

3. Avoid driving tired– The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 2.5% of fatal crashes and 2% of injury crashes involve drowsy driving, and early morning at dawn are when some of the most tired drivers hit the road.  Unfortunately, we understand working hours dictate many of our schedules and the times we have to drive. If you have to drive very early in the morning, give your self at least half an hour to fully wake up before jumping behind the wheel.  More than anything else, the best way to avoid tired driving is getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

4. Stay on the look out for wildlife– When it starts to get dark, many timid animals feel safe enough to start peaking their way out to investigate the dazzling lights from the passing cars.  While this mostly occurs in rural areas, it’s good to keep in mind that if you see something rustling in the grass on the side of the road, it could mean a furry friend is approaching.

Driving from Dusk Til Dawn (2)

 

Fall Driving Safety

fall drive

When most people think of dangerous driving weather, winter usually comes to mind, but fall has its fair share of dangers too.  Some of the things we love most about fall, like the beautiful leaves and cooler weather can lead to new dangers that you may not think of.  Keep these tips in mind in the fall, and stay safe on the road!

 Leaves – Everyone loves the beautiful red, yellow, and orange leaves that come with the fall season, but they don’t stay on the trees for very long.  Once they fall to the ground and cover the road, they can hide potholes, cover pavement markings, and once it rains, they can make the road extremely slick which is not only a danger for drivers, but pedestrians as well.  Keep your windshield leaf-free to prevent them from getting stuck under windshield wipers in a storm.  Make sure to also be aware of leaf peepers on the road, especially if you live in a rural area.  These drivers may be distracted or make sudden stops, so use caution around cars that are traveling particularly slow or have out of state license plates.  Remain alert when driving in the fall, especially when it’s raining, use the same caution you would if you were driving over ice in the winter.

Frost – After a hot, humid summer, the cooler fall air is a refreshing change, but with the change in temperature comes another thing to be weary of, frost.   Temperatures may feel fair and refreshing during the day, but they can drop dramatically at night.  First thing in the morning, there may still be frost on the road so use caution, especially on overpasses, bridges, or roads that don’t get lit by much sunlight, as this is where frost tends to accumulate.

Tires – With the sudden changes in temperature, tires can contract and expand which results in them losing air pressure so you need to monitor them closely.  Under inflated tires can increase fuel consumption and effect the way the vehicle handles, it is also a major cause of tire failure so be sure to check your tire pressure once a month.

Fog – Fall can be a damp, wet season here in Massachusetts, and we will likely see a lot of dark, foggy mornings and nights.  Keep your lights on during these foggy days, but do not put your high beams on as this can distract other drivers and restrict their visibility.

Back to School Traffic – Fall means back to school season, and there are going to be more pedestrians, school buses, and traffic along with it.  Be extra alert and mindful of speed limits in school zones, and near areas where children tend to be such as playgrounds and athletic fields.  For more in depth safety tips during back to school season, check another one of our blogs which has a ton of back to school  driving safety tips.

Autumn creates some unique driving hazards that many would not typically think of.  Understanding these dangers will make you a better, and safer driver, so be sure to keep these tips in mind!

Photo By: Michael Sprague

 

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