Autumn is upon us once again. Children are back to school, football is in full-swing and hunters are waiting patiently for their season to open. In the Poconos, we can see not only rain, but snow as well before winter officially arrives. Although fall is my favorite season, driving at this time of year brings its own hazards, but with planning and safe habits, you can remain safe on our roads.
Please take a few minutes to review this list of tips we’ve developed to help keep everyone safe this season. Even though they may seem like common sense precautions that everyone should practice, the fact remains that many people won’t and accidents will occur. We hope at least one driver will remember something we’ve said and make our roads a little safer.
Leaves – Nothing is more beautiful than the changing leaves in October, but these canvases of color can also create havoc on roads and sidewalks. When parking your car, avoid piles of leaves that may catch fire from a hot catalytic converter. When driving, be cautious of leaves on the road. Wet leaves can be very slick and act like ice under your tires, preventing proper steering and braking. And even if leaves appear dry, they may conceal wet ones underneath.
Daylight Savings Time – Nothing announces the arrival of winter for me more than walking outside to darkness at 5:00 in the afternoon. For motorists, this early darkness has its own unique hazards. Visibility is reduced so drivers need to be more cautious. Also, many school-age children are getting off buses or walking home from activities in darkness. Please be aware of these added dangers.
Sun Glare – In conjunction with the change of the clock, sun glare also is a distraction on the roads. The sun is just above the horizon when the roads have the most traffic. You may crest a hill or turn into the path of a setting sun, becoming momentarily blinded to your surroundings. Make sure you keep sunglasses within quick and easy reach.
Tire Pressure – Drastic changes in temperature can change the pressure in your tires. When it warms, the air expands and your pressure increases. Keep an eye on your tire pressure and fill your tires when necessary. Also check your tread to make sure your tires will maintain their grip on wet surfaces. Your tires are the only contact you have with the road; make sure they keep in contact.
Wet Conditions – Autumn typically is a rainy season. Fluctuating temperatures can also cause dew and fog which can make surfaces wet. Wet surfaces need to be treated like icy surfaces and you need to use the same driving skills; no sudden movements. Turn slowly, brake slowly and accelerate slowly. Rapid changes in speed or direction are what cause loss of control. If you do find yourself losing control, reduce speed gradually and remember to counter steer.
Trucks – Starting around July, retail stores start to increase their merchandise for the holiday season. Trucks are moving constantly until early December, delivering food and goods to stores and homes across America. Give trucks plenty of cushion behind so that the driver can see your vehicle. Also, remember that it takes longer for a truck to stop than for a passenger vehicle, so make sure you keep a cushion between trucks behind you as well.
Avoid Distractions – Distractions are a problem all year and are now regarded as the biggest cause of motor vehicle accidents. Cell phones are the biggest distraction, but even things such as passengers, eating, make-up and the radio can remove your attention from the road where it needs to be. Try to remain focused on your driving and if something is more urgent, pull-over and attend to it before resuming your trip.
Plan Ahead – Give yourself extra time when commuting to work, school or other appointments. Construction, street cleaning, and school buses can cause delays in your travels, so plan for them accordingly. Many accidents are caused by motorists who are trying to make-up for lost time by driving excessively fast and too recklessly.
If you have other tips you’d like to share with us and other motorists, we appreciate your contribution. If we can increase the awareness of motorists just a little, we can hopefully spare the life or health of at least one person. Please drive responsibly.
Tue, Nov 5th, 2013 4:37 PM
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