Drivers, stay safe on the roads this fall

Last Modified: 10/01/2021


This post was written by Anna Belote, director, Safety, Parkview Health.

Weather in the Midwest is so unpredictable and certainly has a hand in creating troublesome road conditions. As we ease into autumn and the changes it brings, it’s important to be aware of the following hazards and adjust accordingly.

Leaves on the road

When leaves accumulate on the roadway and become wet, they can get extremely slippery, making the driving conditions similar to driving on ice. If the temperature drops below freezing, the wet leaves will freeze and result in extremely hazardous driving conditions. Cars can lose traction, skid and possibly cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles. Additionally, leaves often cover the painted road markings, making it difficult to know the locations of the lanes.

Here are some tips for avoiding the risks of falling foliage and piles of leaves:

  • Slow down if you are driving on a road covered with leaves, especially when driving around turns.
  • Allow yourself plenty of room to stop in an emergency. Keep a greater distance between you and the car in front of you.
  • Leaves make it difficult to see potholes and bumps in the road, so be on alert.
  • A pile of leaves raked to the side of the road is an inviting place to a child. Children enjoy jumping into the leaf piles or burrowing down into them and hiding. Never drive through a leaf pile. Use caution going around turns and where children are playing.
  • Keep your windshield leaf free to avoid wet leaves getting stuck under the windshield wiper blades.
Changing weather conditions

When it comes to a fall forecast, you just never know what you’re going to get. Here are some tips to prepare for whatever the weather holds:

  • When driving in fog, set your headlight to low beam. This setting aims the beam of light down toward the roadway.
  • In the fall as temperatures drop, frost often forms on the roadway, causing hazardous driving conditions. Drive slowly and break gently at overpasses and bridges as these areas frost over more quickly than other roadway surfaces.
  • Be aware of areas where black ice forms on the roadway.
Additional fall driving safety tips
  • Always keep a pair of sunglasses in your vehicle. Fall sunrises and sunsets can be very brilliant. The bright sun often creates a large amount of glare, making it difficult to see other vehicles, the roadway or the road's shoulder. Wearing sunglasses during these times reduces the danger.
  • If you live in an area where there are deer, they are more apt to run into the roadway especially at dawn and dusk since the fall is an active breeding time. If you see a deer cross the roadway, proceed very slowly as they often travel in groups.

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