There’s nothing better than Kentucky in the Fall. The leaves are changing; the temperature is invigorating, and football is in the air. But, with all of the splendor comes danger on our roadways. Here are some of the top fall driving hazards and tips for avoiding them. Above all, slow down, learn the risks, and enjoy a Fall season without car wrecks and injuries.
- October through January is mating season for deer. They are on the move, particularly at dawn and dusk when daylight and visibility are low. You are three times more likely to hit a deer during these times – so slow way down and be more attentive to the roadsides ahead.
- A deer’s eyes glow in your headlights, and they may be blinded by the light. This means they might not see you, but you can see them. In the dark, look for glowing eyes along the roadside. Increase vigilance along wooded roads, near the river and any other natural water sources, and when leaving or entering the city limits.
- IF AND ONLY IF YOU HAVE TIME – and encounter a deer staring into your headlights, flash your lights and sound your horn to try moving it to safety.
- When you spot a deer along the roadway, slow down.
- If a deer moves into your path, maintain control and do your best to brake and give the deer time to get out of your way – IF AND ONLY IF YOU HAVE TIME.
- NEVER swerve to avoid a deer that darts into your path, and if you are on the interstate or busy state road, do not brake and/or take any evasive action whatsoever. If you suddenly encounter a deer, the safest thing to do is nothing. Evasive maneuvers cause more serious injuries and deaths than anything else.
- If you are on a multi-lane roadway, drive near the center to give deer room to graze.
- Where there is one deer, there are usually multiple deer. If a deer crosses the road in front of you, slow down and look for more deer as you proceed carefully.
Low Lighting, Glare, and Slippery Roads
- 25% of driving is at night, but according to the National Safety Council, that’s when 50% of car crash fatalities occur. In the fall, darkness comes earlier, and the nights grow longer – so the likelihood of a fatal car wreck increases.
- Run your errands earlier (during daylight), and use your bright lights on dark roads when there’s no oncoming traffic.
- Remember the glare that accompanies sunrise and sunset. In the fall, the “high glare” periods move closer and closer to rush hour. When the sun sets behind a car, it is very difficult to see any traffic lights ahead or through your mirrors. As the sun drops lower on the horizon at dawn and dusk, there’s a higher risk of blinding glare as you come over a hill or around a turn. Wear sunglasses while the sun is up, and again, slow down!
- Also, it is a good idea to replace your windshield wipers at the start of the season. A clean windshield helps combat the glare.
- When rain combines with leaves on the road, even good tires with plenty of tread will slip if you have to suddenly hit the brakes. Slow down on wet roads. Driving at a slower speed gives you a longer distance for braking or skidding.
- Avoid braking on leaves. Wet leaves are almost as slippery as ice.
- Fog is worse during the colder months. When driving through fog, set your headlights to low beam.
- Remember how to drive in the rain! Leave plenty of room between your car and the car in front of you.
- Maintain your tires! Cold weather causes air pressure to drop. Check the tread depth on all of your tires, and make sure all tires are properly inflated.
High Risk Traffic
- School is back in session so – do not exceed the school zone speed limit! And, NEVER attempt to pass a stopped school bus.
- During the Fall, morning rush hour brings increased risk of wrecks, as new, teenage drivers are on the road – too often driving fast in the dark. Increase your awareness in general and especially around schools where young drivers (and possibly neighborhood walkers) might lack the experience to see you coming.
- Football season brings the fun of tail-gaiting, but also increases in DUIs and car wrecks. Have a designated driver for your day at the game. If you’re not going to the game, stay away from the stadium as well as the bars and all that high-risk traffic.
- On game days, remember defensive driving tactics, and be on the constant lookout for drunk drivers.
- The most careful driver on the road is still sharing the road with high-risk drivers. During weather and road conditions that increase the risk of car wrecks, injuries, and fatalities, the best thing you can for everyone on the road, including yourself, is to … you guessed it … slow down.
That said, enjoy your Fall season safely; share safe-driving awareness with your friends and family; stay off the phone while driving, and Go Cards!