Fall Road Conditions : How They Change
There is a reason why fall is one of the most cherished times of the year. Across the United States, the foliage begins to change, and it is never the same in every part of the country. The east coast is home to a variety of sugar maples, which is part of what gives it its different stunning colors. In the west, places like Montana have tamarack trees whose needles change to gold and rain down on hikers.
In Oklahoma, we experience many different changes that make the state a landmine for leaf peepers. Our rolling hills eventually turn from a lush green to varying shades of gold and red. But with these changes come several different safety risks of which to be aware. Here’s how fall conditions change in our beautiful home state – and what you should do to prepare for it.
Leaves On The Road
The biggest issue that we face in the fall is all that lovely foliage drenching the road in a slippery sheet of beauty. Fall leaves on the road are incredibly dangerous for several reasons.
- In suburban and urban areas, leaf piles are places where children like to hide. Younger children will not distinguish the difference between a leaf pile on the side of the road and one in their yard. It is best to avoid these piles, however inviting they might be to you, too. You could end up saving a life.
- Dry leaves are a fire hazard, even this late in the fire season. A spark from your ignition or your catalytic converter could cause a blaze. This is less likely to be an issue when you are driving, but it is something to keep in mind when you are parked.
- Leaves on your windshield can cause blockages under your windshield wipers. Fall is a time of increased rainstorms. If you get caught going down the highway quickly with a leaf under a wiper blade, it could severely decrease your ability to see.
- Leaves are slippery, and when you are braking over them, they often act like ice. Put distance between yourself and other cars when driving in a leaf-heavy area. Also, be sure to give your vehicle the range it needs to brake safely.
Severe Weather Changes
Fall’s fall’s weather can vary between crisp, gorgeous days and rain-heavy ones. This is fine when you’re inside, snuggled up with a book on the couch. However, when you are driving, it can quickly become dangerous if the weather goes from perfect to stormy in a moment’s notice. In the fall, check the weather before you leave for an extended drive. Prepare your car for snow by carrying chains and changing your tires over to all-weather or winter tires.
Lastly, if the road conditions become too hazardous, always remember that you can pull over and wait out the weather. Find somewhere safe on the side of the road where you will avoid getting hazards on.
On the same note, driving in the snow and other poor weather is not the same as driving on a clear day with perfect road conditions. Snow happens unexpectedly in the fall sometimes, so we don’t always have the luxury of putting on snow tires in a hurry. When it is snowing out, keep the following in mind:
- You will need extra time to brake. Be sure to leave space between you and other cars, and anticipate changes like turns in the road and intersections.
- Bridges are the worst culprits when it comes to iciness. The mist from the moisture underneath gets on the bridge and slicks it over before other parts of the road. When driving on a bridge, be safe. Don’tDon’t accelerate, pass, or brake too hard.
- Avoid passing as a general rule. Other than the fact that you do not need to go quickly during a snowstorm, you’re likely to have better conditions in the right lane. More people drive in that lane, which gives the snow and ice less of a chance to build up. Additionally, the middle of the road between the two lanes is one of the iciest and slushiest parts of the road. Ergo, it is prime territory for swerving.
- Continually check your brakes when it is safe to do so. All storms produce different situations. Check to see how well your brakes can handle these situations, and you’ll be able to anticipate road changes better.
Fog is much more likely during this time of the year than it is during any other time of the year because of how quickly the weather is apt to change. Fog happens when the moisture in the air is warmer than the surrounding air conditions, and it condenses. Though fog often occurs in the early morning and evenings, it can happen at any point in the day when moisture is prevalent – and it usually comes on very quickly. To stay safe during onset fog, drive with your low beams on, and go slow.
Fall is when light changes happen drastically.
- The way the earth is positioned during this time causes glare, which can be dangerous to drivers. Though it might be tempting to clean out your car and get rid of your summer sunglasses during this time, keep a pair in the car at all times.
- The sun rises later and sets earlier, which equates to less daylight driving time. Watch out for animals the hour before sunrise and sunset, and make sure your headlights are working before you go on any long trips.
- Because there is less daylight sun, you will also encounter persistent ice patches on the road where shade stays most of the day. Keep an eye out for these patches, often found on curves in the road, and drive accordingly.
Zeck Ford in Purcell, Oklahoma, is committed to keeping our customers safe during this beautiful season. Whether that means selling you a new car, truck, or SUV, or just giving you these fall safety tips, we would rather you be safe than sorry. Stop into our location today to service your car and get it ready for cooler weather, or to check out our selection of winter-ready vehicles.