Catherine Hiles
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How to Navigate Common Fall Driving Challenges

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A car driving along the road with a branch in the foreground that's covered with yellow and orange fall leaves.
Fall drives have their own share of challenges, especially during inclement weather
Photo: Arek Socha via Pixabay

There’s so much much more to fall than just pumpkin spice lattes and potted chrysanthemums. It’s a wonderful time to hit the road in your car and explore the beauty of the season at your local nature parks. But driving in the autumn isn’t always easy and can sometimes be quite unsafe. The following are just a few challenges you may face while driving in the fall and some tips on how to overcome them.

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Slippery road conditions

Depending on where you live, you might experience a lot of rain in the fall. When you combine that with freshly fallen leaves, the roads can quickly become hazardous.

Try to avoid driving directly over leaves if you can. And slow down when the roads are wet (that’s good advice year-round, not just in the fall). Later in the season, you may also experience early ice and snow, which means you’ll need to drive even slower, and make sure you keep a good distance between yourself and the car ahead.

You’ll also want to inspect the tires to make sure they have enough tread left; replace them if they’re looking balder than they should. If you live in a colder region, it’s time to start thinking about snow tires.

School buses

While most schools technically are back in session by the end of summer, the shortening days of fall mean you’ll need to look out for buses and kids while it’s still dark outside. Make sure you know the law about when to stop for a school bus, and stay vigilant in case a child decides to run out into the road without looking.

Darker driving conditions

In late October or early November, the clocks go back an hour, which means it’ll start getting darker an hour earlier than you’re used to. If you haven’t driven in the dark for a while, it may take some getting used to. In the meantime, be on the lookout for hazards, make sure you utilize your headlights at dawn and dusk, and slow down if you’re uncomfortable with nighttime driving.

Oh deer!

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, you’re about 3.5 times more likely to hit a deer when driving during the month of November than other times in the year. That’s because November is when deer become amorous and look for partners with which to create very tiny and cute deer babies. While the end result of wobbly-legged Bambi lookalikes is wonderful, the process of making those babies can mean deer are on the move more and are less cautious, since they have only one thing on their minds.

Bright sunshine

Depending on the time you drive to and from work, you might notice that the sun is extra bright when you’re commuting, causing a glare on your windshield. Make sure you have sunglasses handy, and make use of your car’s visors if you can. If you really can’t see, consider shifting your work hours so you’re not driving when the sun is super bright and reflective.

By remaining vigilant and driving carefully and defensively, you can stay safe on the road this fall.