Navigating Autumn’s Hazards: A Guide for Safe Driving

Originally published in Fleet Management Weekly 10/4/23

By Ed Dubens, CEO and Founder, eDriving

As the calendar turns to autumn, nature paints a breathtaking landscape of golden hues and crimson shades. It’s a season that captivates the senses and invites us to embrace its beauty. Yet, amid this scenic splendor, autumn also presents unique challenges for drivers that require not just caution but a deeper understanding of the road.

Join us as we explore the intricate dynamics of fall driving and unveil strategies for safely navigating its distinctive hazards. Beyond the obvious tips, we will delve into the nuances of autumn driving, empowering you to become a mindful and seasoned driver as you venture through this captivating season.

The Slippery Slope of Wet Leaves
Autumn’s most enchanting feature—the falling leaves—conceals a potential hazard beneath their vivid palette. When moisture seeps into these fallen leaves, they become as treacherous as ice, robbing your tires of their grip, and threatening to compromise your control over the vehicle.

  • At the core of safe driving during this season lies a simple principle: reduce your speed and increase your following distance on leaf-strewn roads.
  • Practice the art of gentle steering and braking, which proves vital in preserving traction and averting sudden skids.

Low Visibility: Autumn’s Veil
The diminishing daylight hours and the occasional foggy shroud of mist that characterizes autumn can erode visibility, turning ordinary commutes into challenging journeys.

  • Illuminate your path by keeping your headlights on at all times, even during daylight hours.
  • If installed, use fog lights when necessary to enhance visibility.
  • Adhere unwaveringly to the 2-3 second rule for maintaining a safe following distance and adjust your speed to align with the evolving weather conditions.

Animal Hazards: The Deer Mating Season
Autumn’s enchantment extends to the animal kingdom as well, particularly to deer during their mating season. Yet, their amorous pursuits and autumnal migrations can lead to unexpected hazards on the road.

  • Pay special attention and scan well ahead for movement along roadsides or tree lines, especially in areas known for high deer or wild animal populations.
  • If you find yourself facing an impending collision with a deer or other wild animal, remember that slowing down and maintaining your course is often safer than swerving abruptly.

Braking: The Art of Stopping Safely
Mastery of the art of braking is an autumn driver’s most potent tool. Panic braking can precipitate skids and collisions.

  • Apply the brakes smoothly and progressively, reducing the need for abrupt or forceful stops.
  • Adverse or wet autumn weather can increase stopping distances significantly. Always increase your following distance and reduce your speed based on conditions to reduce the need for harsh or sudden stops.

Tire Maintenance: Traction is Key
The rubber meeting the road—the state of your tires—is of paramount importance always, but especially in autumn.

  • Elevate your tire maintenance regimen to routinely monitor tire pressure, tread depth, and overall condition.
  • Always check your tire pressure when the tires are cold and before driving.
  • Consider investing in all-season or winter tires to augment your vehicle’s grip and responsiveness, particularly in wet and slippery conditions.

Stay Informed: Weather Forecasts and Road Conditions
In the age of information, staying current on weather forecasts and road conditions has never been more accessible or essential.

  • Begin every trip with a weather forecast update, staying informed about the evolving conditions.
  • During your drive, use a local radio news channel for local road condition updates, remaining ready to alter your route or seek shelter in response to severe weather events.

drive safelyRemember, safe driving isn’t limited to autumn; it’s a year-round commitment. To help you stay safe in any season, consider eDriving—a trusted partner in driver safety. eDriving offers a library of best practice guides for all driver situations, ensuring you have the knowledge and tools to navigate the roads confidently and responsibly.

As you enjoy the splendor of autumn and its unique challenges, remember these tips to keep yourself and others safe. Drive carefully, stay alert, and savor the sights and scents of this enchanting season while keeping yourself and others out of harm’s way. With eDriving by your side, you can tackle any driving challenge that comes your way. Safe travels!