As the Leaves Fall, You Should Be Changing Your Driving Habits
Again the seasons are changing and with that, our driving must change too.
As we drive into autumn, there will be weather and road conditions that we will encounter that are quite different from the hot summer season we've just been through.
As nights cool and the ground holds its warmth, fog can form in the morning hours. This mist will sink to the low-lying areas and motorists should be ready for the reduced visibility that can result.
Fall fog can be different in another way. As we drive through the cool autumn morning air, our vehicle's exterior, including the windshield, will cool down. As we encounter the warm moist air, it will condense on our windshield.
Unlike in winter, the fogging will happen on the outside of the windows. To remedy the windshield fogging, use the wipers to remove the moisture. To prevent the fog from condensing on your windshield, set your defroster to blow warm air onto the windshield to warm it up. A warm windshield is less likely to fog up.
As the temperature drops, it affects our tires in two ways. One, our tires' air pressure will plunge in relation to the temperature drop. It would be wise to take the time to check your tire pressures and bring them back up to a safe pressure.
Secondly, tire grip will be reduced when the temperatures drop into the single digit range as the tread compound hardens with the cold. This will make braking distances longer and reduce grip for handling.
When you notice frost on your vehicle, watch for icing on bridges. Roads tend to hold some warmth from the ground while bridges lack that heat and cool much quicker.
This can result in the dreaded black ice that seems to catch many motorists unaware.
Fall colours can be spectacular and can certainly be a driving distraction. As tempting as it is to revel in all that colourful glory, it is best to pay attention to your driving to ensure that we all arrive at our destinations safely.
We can also bet that there will be other distracted drivers sharing the roads with us and watching for them is more important than looking at leaves. If you really want to enjoy the fall colours, go for a hike or take a scenic bus tour.
On rural roads, we have to watch for agricultural equipment as farmers take in their crops and prepare their fields for winter.
As daylight dwindles, remember to turn on your full headlight system especially if you have become accustomed to driving after sun-up and have relied only on your daytime running lights. Without your full headlight system being on, your taillights will not be illuminated.
More so in rural areas, animals will start to move about in preparation for winter. Deer will start to migrate to their winter yards and roads will be another obstacle for them to cross. Colliding with a deer can cause significant damage to a vehicle.
If you are not confident in your collision avoidance skills, it is not recommended that you swerve to avoid running over smaller animals. Many times this has led to loss of control and some very serious crashes that resulted in fatalities for the vehicle occupants. It is not worth trying to save the life of a critter by putting yours and others in danger if you lack avoidance driving skills.
As leaves fall onto the pavement, they can reduce tire grip - especially if they are wet. The road can become quite greasy from wet leaves that affect braking distances.
If you encounter a pile of leaves on the road, it is best to avoid it if possible as debris that could damage your vehicle could be lurking under those leaves.
It is not uncommon for children to play in large piles of leaves. Avoid driving through large piles at the side of the road or in driveways.
As much as most people do not want to contemplate winter, fall is a great time to start thinking about winter tires. When the ambient temperature in your area stays at or below plus 7 degrees Celsius, that is the time to mount winter tires on your vehicle.
Waiting until the first snow fall is too late. If you have to order new winter tires, do it now so you don't get caught in the last-minute rush that always occurs when the snow first falls.