Safety at Sunset – Fall Driving Tips
Fall is a season of stunning foliage, cooler temperatures, and cozy evenings. However, as the days grow shorter, many drivers find themselves contending with decreased visibility and increased accident risks when driving at night. For older adults, who may already face certain challenges when it comes to driving, this shift in lighting conditions can be particularly challenging.
Understanding the Challenges of Fall Night Driving
- Decreased Visibility: As autumn sets in, daylight hours become shorter, and the transition from dusk to darkness occurs earlier in the evening. This reduced visibility can make it challenging to spot obstacles, pedestrians, or wildlife on the road. The combination of twilight conditions and falling leaves can further hinder your ability to see clearly.
- Glare from Wet Roads: Fall often brings rain showers and wet road conditions. When headlights from oncoming traffic interact with rain-slicked streets, it can create blinding glare. This glare can temporarily impair your vision and make it difficult to maintain focus. Fallen leaves can be as slick as ice when it rains and hide potholes and pavement markings making it difficult to see.
- Increased Wildlife Activity: Fall is mating and migration season for many animals, which can lead to increased wildlife activity on roadways. Many deer are more active during this time, posing a significant collision risk for drivers. These animals are often more active during dawn and dusk, adding to the danger of fall night driving.
Safety Tips for Fall Night Driving
- Check Lights and Tires: Ensure that all your vehicle’s lights (headlights, taillights, turn signals) are in working order. Clean the lenses regularly to remove dirt and grime that can reduce their effectiveness. Consider upgrading to brighter, more energy-efficient LED bulbs for better illumination. Check your tires’ air pressure to maintain the correct pressure as the temperature drops.
- Adjust Your Speed: Reduce your speed when driving at night in fall, especially in areas prone to wildlife crossings. Slowing down gives you more time to react to unexpected obstacles and reduces the severity of accidents.
- Keep Windshield and Mirrors Clean: Clean your windshield and mirrors inside and out to minimize glare from oncoming headlights and the reflection of dashboard lights. A clean windshield also improves overall visibility.
- Use Your High Beams Wisely: Use your high beams when there is no oncoming traffic but be sure to switch to low beams when approaching other vehicles. This will help reduce glare for both you and other drivers.
- Stay Alert and Focused: Avoid distractions like texting, eating, or adjusting the radio. Pay close attention to the road and scan for movement or reflective eyes along the roadside, which may indicate the presence of wildlife.
- Be Prepared for Sudden Stops: Keep a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of you, allowing ample space for sudden stops. Wet leaves on the road can decrease your stopping power.
- Watch for Fog: Fall often brings foggy conditions, especially in low-lying areas. Slow down and use your low beams when driving in fog to improve visibility.
- Avoid Fatigue: Night driving can be more tiring than daytime driving. Make sure you are well-rested before embarking on a long journey and consider taking breaks to stay alert.
Ways to Avoid Accidents
- Limit Distractions: Avoid using your phone or any other distractions while driving. Stay focused on the road.
- Adaptive Driving Technologies: Consider vehicles equipped with advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), such as adaptive headlights and collision avoidance systems, which can be particularly helpful for older adults.
- Drive at a Comfortable Speed: Don’t feel pressured to drive at the speed limit if it doesn’t feel safe. Driving at a comfortable speed for your visibility and reaction time is more important.
- Stay Informed: Check the weather and road conditions before heading out. Be aware of any animal crossing areas and adjust your driving accordingly.
Fall may bring stunning scenery and cool weather, but it also comes with challenges for drivers and particularly older adults who drive during the early dusk hours. By following the safety tips and being aware of the potential risks, all drivers can enjoy their independence while staying safe on the roads. Remember, being cautious and prepared is the key to a smooth and secure Autumn driving experience.
If you have any questions or concerns about your vision and night driving give one of our Bissell Eye Care offices a call at 724-444-6767 or 724-226-0444.