‘Tis the Season for Car Accidents: How to Stay Safe On The Road During The Fall
’Tis the season … for car accidents, that is.
Fall season is the most perilous season for car crashes, with 72% of U.S. drivers — or roughly 170 million drivers — residing in states where autumn is the peak season for accidents, including California, according to a new study by Carfax.
This is attributed to three main reasons:
- Diminishing Daylight: Fall means shorter days, and that means more driving in the dark, when drivers are twice as likely to have an accident as in daylight. Carfax says half of U.S. accidents happen in the dark, but those hours account for only 25 percent of travel.
- Slick Surfaces: Wet leaves brought down by storms can be as slippery as ice. Braking on wet leaves can make a car travel more than twice as far as braking on a dry road.
- Animal Danger: Deer mating season runs from October through December, and Carfax says nearly half of deer crashes nationwide happen in just those three months. Carfax also cites one study that notes that deer-car collisions spike 16% in the week after the end of Daylight-Saving Time in November because of the jump to an earlier sunset.
With that said, winter is also dangerous. Researchers say 23% of drivers live in five states where winter is worst for accidents: California, Florida, New Jersey, Louisiana and Vermont, with a combined 54 million drivers. Nebraska and Oklahoma see more accidents in the spring, while New Mexico has a higher incidence of accidents in the summer.
Read below for an overview of some of the most important safety tips for fall driving to keep your family safe and how you can prepare yourself in case you do get into a car accident.
FALL DRIVING SAFETY TIPS
Autumn can bring more sun glare, lower tire pressure and wet leaves, so you should be prepared to adapt your driving habits as necessary in order to practice fall safety.
- Slow Down: No matter what the season, speed is often a key factor in accidents. Bad weather adds to the danger factor. So, give other drivers, and yourself, space so you have time to respond to sudden perils ahead of you, especially when driving through rain, ice, fog or darkness.
- Adapt to Wet Conditions: Driving over wet leaves is similar to driving over ice in that they can make your tires lose traction and cause you to lose control of the vehicle. If you feel your car moving on its own because it is hydroplaning, you shouldn’t slam on the brakes since that could cause your car to spin out. Instead, take your foot off the gas pedal and allow your vehicle to slow down naturally while turning your steering wheel in the direction you want to go.
- Navigate Through Darkness: Make sure your headlights are functioning properly before you hit the road, use your high beams if there are no other cars nearby and, if possible, try to avoid two-lane roads where you will constantly have the light from other drivers’ headlights obstructing your vision. You should also drive especially slowly on neighborhood roads and keep an eye out for pedestrians.
- Be Alert in Fog: Fog is common throughout Kern County during the fall and winter. You should drive through fog slowly and make use of your low-beam headlights. Turning these on will also ensure your taillights are on, making you more visible to cars behind you. You should also turn on fog lights if you have them. These should be situated lower than your main headlights so they can illuminate the road beneath the fog. Conversely, you should avoid using your high-beam headlights because fog can reflect bright light back at you, making it even harder to see the road ahead of you.
- Mitigate Glare: Glare from the sun is at its worst around the fall equinox and can be especially dangerous when the sunrise corresponds with morning rush hour traffic. If you need to drive around sunrise or sunset, you can minimize the impact of glare by wearing sunglasses. You should also be sure to keep your windshield clean since dirt on the glass can amplify the glare.
- Watch Out for Children: As students return to school during the fall season, you need to be prepared to slow down in school zones and stop whenever a school bus in front of you has stopped or kids are crossing the street. You should also be especially vigilant right before and after school hours when inexperienced teenage drivers are most likely to be on the road. You’ll also need to be careful when driving after dark on Halloween since there will be a large number of people traveling on foot, many of them children potentially dressed in dark-colored costumes that could be difficult to see during the nighttime.
- Check Your Insurance: It’s a good idea to review your auto insurance policy at least once per year and the beginning of autumn could be a perfect time to reevaluate your coverage needs.
It’s always a good idea to make sure your vehicle is in good condition. Here are a few things you should check for the fall season:
- Tire pressure: Sudden temperature drops make tires lose air quickly. Tire pressure typically decreases by one to two pounds per square inch (PSI) for every 10-degree drop in temperature, so you may need to pump your tires up more often in the fall.
- Wiper Fluid: Carry an extra gallon in cold-weather months.
- Wiper Blades: If the rubber has cracked, your wipers may leave streaks. Install new blades if needed.
- Battery: Cold weather reduces a battery’s power, and it could fail. If your mechanic finds that your battery is weak, have a new one installed.
- Winter Kit: Be ready if you wind up stranded. A kit should have water, a blanket, ice scraper, durable food items, road flares, a phone charger, a flashlight and first-aid supplies. Other items that may be useful: jumper cables, duct tape, tools, paper towels, raincoat, and work gloves. Keep this kit in the car at all times.
If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.