Taking Precautions for Fall Driving
Fall brings cool crisp air, a change in colors, and more unpredictability on roads. Before you head out on your next drive, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:
Schools create more traffic
With kids back in class, we should expect to encounter more cars and buses on the street, especially during your morning commute. Drivers should also watch out for more pedestrians trying to cross busy intersections, along with children trying to make their way to and from neighborhood bus stops.
Wild animals continue to prowl
With the arrival of fall, the risk of collisions with large animals like deer increases. The time between late October and December represents mating season for stags. They stay on the move, focusing more on their search for does and other males to fight, than their own safety when crossing a highway. Also, feral hogs continue to risk the lives of Texas drivers, with over 2.6 million wild pigs currently roaming Texas. Their short stature and weight can cause a rollover accident when hit at a high speed.
Rain, rain go away…
The first rain of the fall season can create extremely dangerous driving conditions. Within the first 10 minutes of a light downpour, precipitation can mix with dust, oil from new asphalt and oil from motor vehicles. This combination may create a slippery roadway. With heavy rains, your tires can lose contact with the road, giving you very little traction. If your vehicle begins to hydroplane, you may lose control of your steering and brakes. Slowing down will help you keep control of your car during a fall rain.
All the leaves are brown…
The changing colors of fall foliage may look beautiful, but they can litter roadways, creating slick streets and obscured traffic lines. These brown and yellow symbols of autumn can also hide potholes and other threats to the thruway. In some instances, wet leaves create just as much havoc for drivers as snow or ice.
Fogging up the windows
Colder temperatures mixed with moisture can create spooky road conditions for travelers. That is why you will usually find fog in low places or areas surrounded by hills, water, mountains and trees. Fog usually forms in the morning or evening, when temperatures are at their coolest. To stay safe while traveling through foggy conditions, you should allow more driving distance between you and the car ahead. Also, never use your high beam headlights while driving in foggy conditions. High beams tend to bounce off the fog, creating glare and lowering your visibility.
As overnight temperatures begin to dip below freezing, you will begin to wake up to frosty mornings and rimy car windows. Before you head out, make sure to clear as much ice from your vehicle’s windows as possible. Once on the road, expect to encounter icy spots. You should pay special attention to bridges, overpasses and shaded areas on roadways where icy spots can form on the pavement.
Time for a new pair of shades
The fall season is an especially bad time for sun glare on roads. Sun glare can be most problematic during dawn and dusk, making it difficult to see pedestrians, other drivers, traffic signs and lights. You should keep a set of sunglasses at the ready, remove any clutter from your sun visors, and maintain a clean windshield to prevent glare.
Resources for planning your next trip in Texas:
- DriveTexas.org provides some of the most accurate and up-to-date travel-related information currently available to drivers in Texas.
- TXDoT offers current road conditions of specific stretches of highway. You can search by county, Texas roadway and/or condition.
- Google Maps features real-time traffic data, showing slowdowns, accidents, and construction zones, along with providing detailed directions for reaching your destination.