A study by the National Safety Council outlined the rate of deadly car accidents throughout the year and found that the month of September had the highest rate of fatal crashes in 2019. While the warmer months, May through October, each recorded more deaths than the year’s average of deaths per month, September outpaced the death rate per 100 million vehicle miles for all months. Fellow fall months October and November came in with rates of 1.13 and 1.17 per 100 million, respectively.
So, why are car accidents common in fall? The changes in the weather, road conditions, and visibility can create dangers that make autumn roads hazardous for all road users. Some of the major challenges for safe driving in fall are listed below.
As the air gets cooler in fall, the roads can unexpectedly become covered with frost, especially in the early mornings. A layer of morning dew can quickly become a slippery hazard if the moisture freezes. Another dangerous possibility is that black ice can linger as the sun begins to thaw the road.
Temperature fluctuations can also affect the air pressure in your car’s tires. As the air gets cooler, the air inside your tires contracts, causing tires to lose pressure. Tires with inadequate air pressure may not grip the road as well as they should, which can cause handling and traction problems or lead to a dangerous tire blow out.
In the fall, the sun goes down earlier. This means that drivers who are used to returning home from work in daylight might now be traveling in the dark. Drivers should expect that they will travel more frequently in the dark in the autumn months.
Fog is another visibility issue that threatens driving safety in the fall. Fog is not uncommon in the early morning in autumn. Thick fog can make it difficult for drivers to see one another or to see the road directly in front of them.
Additionally, sun glare is another danger that complicates driving on fall roads. Sun glare can affect driver’s ability to see when the sun is low in the sky, and the angle of the sun’s rays can blind the driver.
Leaves are everywhere in fall. They can be beautiful, but they can also create hazardous road conditions. Even a shallow layer of leaves can cause grip issues between a car’s tires and the road’s surface. Leaves may also cover up road markings or underlying dangers, like potholes.
Now that students are back in school, traffic patterns in school zones and surrounding neighborhoods may create dangers. Young children may be walking to school or to the bus stop, making crosswalks more dangerous. School buses and pick-up and drop-off zones can increase traffic as well.
Following general safe driving practices, like following speed limits and leaving room between your car and the vehicle in front of you, should go a long way toward avoiding accidents in the fall. Some additional autumn-specific driving safety tips are listed below.
Fall is a good time for car owners to get a tune-up ahead of the cold weather. This maintenance assessment should involve a check on the air pressure in your tires. It is also a good idea to check the brakes and tire treads for wear and tear.
Windshield wipers may also need to be replaced to allow for maximum visibility while driving. Fluids should be topped off, and lines should be checked for leaks.
Motorists who are not used to driving at dusk may not realize the darkness sneaking up on them. You must remember to turn on your headlights as day turns to night, so that you can see the road and so that other drivers can see you.
When fall fog is present, you should make sure to use your low beams, which shine the light onto the road. Using low beams in foggy conditions helps avoid illuminating the fine water droplets that can obstruct your view.
Drivers should be aware of fallen leaves on the road. Drivers must be careful around leaf piles. An accumulation of dry leaves could present a fire hazard if a car is left running nearby.
A big pile of leaves can hide dangers underneath that could damage your car. Also, a leaf pile can be an attractive hiding place for a child. For that reason, you should never drive through a leaf pile near the road.
As a driver, you should recognize back-to-school traffic changes. You will see more students and school buses on the road. When you are driving near or in a school zone, you should pay attention to warnings and directions given by cross guards and school bus drivers.
Some people may not be aware that driving in autumn can be dangerous. Even if you follow safety precautions while driving, you can still be injured by a negligent driver. Our Pittsburgh car accident lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. can help you pursue damages after an autumn-related collision. For a free consultation and to learn more about your options, call us at 412-765-1888 or contact us online. Located in Pittsburgh, we serve clients throughout Western Pennsylvania, including Allegheny County, Lawrence County, and Washington County.