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Top 4 Fall Driving Dangers: Preparing Your Fleet

Tips and Advice Posted by Bob Belanger, Regional Sales Manager on September 28, 2015

As the days get shorter and the air gets cooler, it’s time to think about how to prepare your fleet for safe fall driving. As the seasons change there are new dangers to consider while on the road. Fall means back to school, fall holidays, time and weather changes, and more. Here are the top fall driving dangers and how to prepare your drivers for them. 

Back to School

Back to school means a lot of changes are happening on the road. School buses will once again be out and about and can slow down your commute if you get stuck behind one at a stop or near a railroad crossing. Plus, both teachers and newly licensed teens are now driving to school. This means more traffic and lots of new drivers on the road. There will also be increased pedestrian traffic, as many kids walk to and from school. In addition, slower speed limits are strictly enforced in school zones when school is in session.

What should drivers do?

  • Allow extra time to get to your destination. You won’t be late because of increased traffic, or get irritated when you’re caught behind a stopped school bus. Plus, be aware of slower school zone speed limits, which are in effect during school hours.
  • Pay close attention in school zones and residential neighborhoods for kids crossing the street or playing outside.
  • Send yourself back to school. Consider a refresher course in defensive driving or enroll in a simulation program to refine your safe driving skills.

Fall Holidays

Just like summer holidays, autumn holidays mean get-togethers with friends and family. Halloween brings the added danger of sugar-crazed children running around, possibly unsupervised and often in the dark. Many trick-or-treaters will be wearing dark clothing, masks, or costume pieces that limit their vision. Costume parties for adults can also lead to impaired drivers on the road, so it’s important to be vigilant on these holidays and the days surrounding them.

What should drivers do?

  • Be sure to keep driving your sole focus. Remain vigilant and look for signs of intoxicated drivers such as swerving or drifting, abrupt lane changes, straddling the center line or other unusual driving behavior. 
  • Be extra aware on holidays, weekends and at night as these are prime times for both intoxicated drivers and children to be out and about near dusk. 

Daylight Savings Time

Fall sunrises and sunsets can be beautiful but blinding. As the times of sunrise and sunset begin to change with the seasons, glare can make it difficult to see road markings and other vehicles. In areas where daylight savings time is observed, this change can be even more drastic as we “fall back” to standard time. Be sure to have sunglasses that reduce glare and shade your eyes from the sun so you can drive safely.

As it begins to get dark earlier, rush hour times tend to coincide with dusk, the peak time for emerging deer. As the sun sets, be sure keep your focus on scanning the road and shoulders. Deer travel in groups, so if you see one, slow down and be especially cautious because where there is one, there are bound to be more.

What should drivers do?

  • Keep appropriate distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you. This will give you more time to react should the driver in front of you stop suddenly, dodge a darting deer, or miss their exit because of sun glare. 
  • Approach traffic lights carefully; bright sunlight can make it difficult to see traffic lights changing from a distance.

Weather Changes

In many places autumn means the potential for many different types of weather. From dense fog caused by dramatic temperature changes, to rain-slick roads, to frost, fall presents many weather-related hazards to drivers. You may need to check your tires a few times, as the air in your tires will contract in cooler temperatures, decreasing the pressure and possibly requiring additional air. Rain, falling leaves, and leftover oil and dust from summer construction can join forces to create dangerously slick road conditions. Keep in mind that even on a sunny day, a pile of leaves is a danger in itself: it could be hiding a large pothole, bump, or object in the road. You’ll also want to be on the lookout for children who may be playing in the leaves.

What should drivers do?

  • Be sure to use fog lights in foggy conditions.
  • Check that all your headlights are in working order before driving at night or in the rain.
  • Consider replacing your windshield wiper blades if they’re worn down from a previous year of rain, snow, salt, and construction zone dust.
  • Avoid driving through piles of leaves and beware of wet leaves causing slick roads.
  • Remember, if your windshield wipers are on, your lights should be on as well.
  • If frost is present or temperatures are near freezing, gently brake at overpasses and bridges, which freeze over first.
  • As temperatures dip just below freezing and rain becomes sleet, especially dangerous black ice can form. Black ice, which is actually clear but blends in with black pavement, can be nearly impossible to spot so use extra caution when driving in these conditions.
  • Check your tire pressure often as temperatures begin to fall.

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