Autumn Safe Driving (8 Simple Tips to Keep You Safe)

Stay safe in the car during autumn by (1) slowing down in fog, (2) keeping your windshield clear, and (3) looking for slippery leaves on the road.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • The cooler temperatures of autumn bring a variety of safety hazards to prepare for while driving
  • Following the speed limit provides drivers with the greatest safety in almost every scenario in all weather conditions
  • Increased animal movement, changing road conditions, and fallen leaves can raise accident risk

Autumn brings shorter days, cooler weather, and often a more routine lifestyle than during the carefree days of summer. Unfortunately, fall driving is second only to summer driving for fatal crashes.

Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of one and 34. Driving during the fall months raises many different risks than driving in the summer.

Preparing for road safety hazards and being careful to handle these situations wisely will help drivers stay safe.

Another important step in preparedness is to make sure you have the car insurance coverage level you need. Evaluate your coverage and deductibles and decide on an appropriate policy. Then compare car insurance quotes to see how much you could save. Enter your ZIP code above to get started.

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3 Daily Safety Tips for All Conditions

There are some universal safety measures to take no matter what the season. And even though these tips are widely published, unfortunately, they’re not followed as they should be.

#3 – Avoid Distracted Driving

According to a AAA study, even though 82 percent of drivers admit that distracted driving is a serious issue, nearly half of drivers admit to talking on the phone while driving and 35 percent say they have read or sent a text while driving. The study also reports the following distracted driving statistics:

  • Drivers talking on a cell phone are four times more likely to be involved in a crash
  • Drivers sending or reading text messages are eight times more likely to be involved in a crash

Drivers need to turn off notifications and set aside their phones while driving.

#2 – Wear a Seatbelt

Every car has them — Wear them! Nearly half of all crash fatalities involve the 10 percent of drivers and occupants not wearing seatbelts. In other words, a person is nine times more likely to survive an accident while wearing a seatbelt than not.

#1 – Don’t Drive Too Fast

Here are some facts about speeding:

There’s more to not speeding than staying within the speed limit. For some driving conditions, especially as the temperatures drop this fall, the speed limit may be too fast. Drivers need to evaluate the road conditions and then drive the appropriate speed.

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5 Safety Tips for Fall Driving

The beautiful crisp autumn weather brings a variety of dangerous driving conditions to mitigate. Here are a few tips to stay as safe as possible.

#5 – Prepare for Fog

Autumn often brings crisp, clear, cool nights which is the recipe for morning fog. Here are some tips from the National Weather Service for safe driving in fog:

  • Slow down
  • Use your low beams. The light from high beams can be reflected back to you in the fog making it harder to see the road
  • Use fog lights if you have them
  • If the temperature is below freezing, watch for icy conditions
  • If visibility is very reduced, follow the “fog line” which is the white painted line on the road
  • If you feel it is unsafe to continue, pull safely off the road and turn your hazard lights on

#4 – Watch for Changing Road Conditions

As the temperatures fall, watch for wet roads becoming icy roads. Take your car off cruise control if the temperature approaches the freezing point. Leave plenty of time to brake, and leave plenty of distance between yourself and other vehicles.

The first snow day of the year poses more statistical risk than other snow days. The first snow day each season has more fatal crashes than subsequent snow days. Remember to exercise extra caution and be aware of the dangers and differences while driving on snow-covered roadways.

  • U.S. News and World Reports states, “Many experts suggest driving super-smoothly in the winter, as if […] you don’t have brakes at all, since you don’t know whether you’ll have any grip for braking when you need it.”
  • Avoid overconfidence if you have all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive will not help you brake any more quickly
  • Try to avoid stopping on an incline. If a vehicle can remain in motion, even it’s slow, it’s more likely to make it to the top
  • Use wisdom to decide when it’s necessary to stay home to ensure safety

#3 – Expect Animals on the Move

In 2017, one in 167 drivers filed a claim for hitting a deer, and those odds doubled in October, November, and December because that’s when the deer mating season occurs. Deer are on the move, looking for and chasing mates, and they’re less cautious than they are the rest of the year.

Our insurance expert Melanie Musson spoke with her State Farm Agent Ty Elliot who reported that in Montana (the state with the second highest odds of hitting a deer), many drivers choose a lower deductible for comprehensive coverage (the coverage that pays for collisions with animals) during those riskiest months.

Follow these tips from the Institute for Insurance Information to avoid a collision with a deer:

  • Be especially attentive at dusk and dawn when deer are most active
  • Use extra caution when driving where deer crossing signs are placed as these indicate a large deer population and a likelihood for roadway deer
  • If one deer is visible, watch for more as they are usually in groups
  • Use high beams at night when safe to do so
  • When a deer is on the shoulder or in the road, slow down and honk the horn to scare it away
  • If a deer is in the driving lane, brake firmly, but do not leave the lane. That will help avoid collisions with other vehicles

#2 – Clear Frosty Windows

When a driver is running late and gets to their vehicle, ready to head off to work, only to discover the windshield is frosted over, it can be tempting to take shortcuts and get going. But it is unsafe and usually illegal to drive with an obstructed view.

Even if a driver is running late, he or she must take the time necessary to properly clear their windshield. Check the weather, and if frost appears likely, consider parking in the garage, if possible, or at least leaving yourself extra time in the morning to let the defrost or scraper do a complete job.

#1 – Beware of Fallen Leaves

Leaves that accumulate on the roadway can be slippery, especially if they’re wet. Motorcyclists, in particular, need to exercise caution when riding on leaf-covered roadways.

Fallen leaves can also cover up potholes and other obstructions. Slow down and leave room for extra braking distances when traveling over a carpet of leaves.

An accident can take the thrill right out of autumn. Follow these cautions and be ready for the driving conditions fall can bring to enjoy this season to the fullest.

Make sure you’re not spending too much for the car insurance coverage you need. Examine your insurance needs as they relate to fall driving, decide what coverage level you need and then compare quotes to find the best company for your situation. Enter your ZIP code below to start comparing.

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