Labor Day marked the unofficial end of summer, and the Fall season is upon us. Changing seasons means changing weather and road conditions, so it is important to stay mindful and ensure you adjust your driving to the appropriate season.
Leaves and Foliage on the Road
The fall weather is usually marked by the leaves changing colors. As beautiful as this is, when leaves begin to accumulate on the ground and become wet from precipitation or morning dew, roads around Nevada become more treacherous. Driving on wet leaves can be like driving on ice by reducing car traction, and when temperatures drop to freezing in the fall months, leaves on the road can pose as a danger. In addition to the danger of slipping, leaves can obscure road markings and make it difficult for drivers to know lane markings, especially in unfamiliar residential areas. The following are some safety precautions to take in the fall weather:
- Slow down when driving on roads covered with leaves, especially at turns.
- Keep plenty of room between you and the car in front of in case you need to make an emergency stop.
- Leaves make it difficult to see potholes and bumps in the road, especially in residential neighborhoods. Ensure you slow down!
- When driving in residential areas, you may come across a pile of leaves. Remember young children often enjoy jumping in piles of leaves or burying themselves in it. Be careful around these leaf piles and never drive through them.
- Keep your windshield clean and leaf-free to avoid them from getting stuck under the windshield wiper blades.
- Keep your driveway and garage free of leaves and never park over a pile of leaves. This can be a fire hazard as the exhaust system and catalytic converter of your car can easily cause a fire.
Other Weather Conditions in the Fall
In addition to the falling leaves, fall can bring a lot of precipitation and wet weather, as well as low temperatures in Nevada. Remember if you are driving in foggy weather to set your headlight to low beam or utilize your cars’ fog light. This sets the cars beams toward the roadway and makes your visibility somewhat better. Additionally, wet weather conditions mixed with low temperatures can result in frost on the roadways, especially during the night and early mornings. In these conditions, drive slowly and break gently especially in places that frost more easily, like bridges and overpasses. Also, remember that black ice, a precursor for many car accidents, forms quickly on the roadway, and just because the roads don’t look icy, doesn’t mean that they aren’t.
Additional Things to Remember When Driving in the Fall
In addition to changing weather conditions, remember to adjust for the fewer hours of daylight during the fall and winter months. It is often dark in the morning hours when children are walking to school or at their bus stop. In addition, since the sun sets around 5 pm or 6pm, it is common that people are still walking their dog, jogging, walking/biking home, etc. When light begins to fade, it becomes more difficult to see pedestrians and bikers, so it is important to slow down and drive defensively. In addition, fall sunrises and sunsets can be very bright and create a lot of glare, making visibility on the roads more difficult. Wearing sunglasses can be a good way to reduce this risk.
One more miscellaneous danger in the fall months, especially in Northern Nevada, is deer running on the roadway at dawn and dusk, because fall is an active breeding time for deer. If you do see a deer cross the roadway, drive very slowly as they often travel in groups, and several other deer may be closely behind.
In addition to driving safely, it is also important to keep your vehicle maintained in colder weather climates. Keep your headlights cleaned and in good working order. Also ensure that your low beams and fog lights are in working order. Ensure your windshield wiper blades are calibrated and replace them if they begin to show any sign of wear. Lastly, try and keep a car safety kit inside a vehicle. Items like a blanket, extra water bottles, and snow shovels, are good items to add to your kit during fall months.