Autumn is officially upon us, and with it comes seasonal driver safety hazards. Halloween also presents some unique challenges for drivers. Please read on for tips that will help keep you, your passengers and children enjoying a night out safe.

Fall Driving Dangers

Fall brings its own hazards that can result in damage or injury if you’re inattentive behind the wheel. The following require special attention during this time of year.

  • Kids returned to school last month, so please remain cautious in school zones – not only for kids walking, but also for young, inexperienced drivers leaving high school to pick up friends or siblings.
  • Daylight Saving Time ends Nov. 5th this year, which means more time driving in the dark. Depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision can all be compromised in the dark, and the glare of headlights from oncoming vehicles can temporarily blind a driver – so be careful, especially in the days immediately following the time change. It’s also worth noting that a 50-year-old driver might need twice as much light to see as clearly as a 30-year-old, and it only gets worse at 60 and older. We see road signs less clearly, have more trouble judging speed and distance, and are bothered more by headlight glare, according to the American Optometric Association.
  • As leaves fall and litter the road, they can cause motorists to park farther from the curb to accommodate piles, create puddles by blocking drainage, hide potholes and pavement markings, prompt bicyclists to stray from designated lanes and turn into a slick mess when they coat the road during rain. Wet leaves reduce traction no matter how new your tires are.
  • Expect your tires to drop at least 1 pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure each month, no matter the weather. That accelerates when the air cools. Tires will drop another pound per square inch of pressure for every 10 degrees of temperature drop. Check tire pressure after the car’s been sitting two or three hours. The correct pressure will be noted on the driver’s side door jamb or in the owner’s manual. The pressure on the tire sidewall is a maximum, not the recommended inflation – though it might coincidentally match the recommended PSI for your car.
  • The blinding distraction of sun glare worsens in fall, as the sun moves closer to the horizon, pointing the glare straight into your eyes and making it more likely to reflect at low angles off buildings, other cars and windows. Be sure to keep your windshield clean, so streaks don’t contribute to the glare.
  • Chilly autumn mornings can trigger fog, reducing your vision and distance perception. If possible, use fog lights, which shine wide, low beams along the road and onto the edges of a street. Don’t use them instead of your regular headlights but rather in addition to low-beam headlights. High beams decrease visibility in fog because the bright light bounces off the fog and back into your eyes.

Halloween Safety

Halloween is traditionally celebrated with trick-or-treating and parties, both of which cause additional hazards for drivers.

  • Be alert for trick-or-treaters. Slow down and scan the road in areas where they are likely to be or where sight distances are limited. There will be more pedestrians in places they are not expected, so be extra cautious. Watch out for pedestrians stepping out from between parked cars or behind shrubbery.
  • Avoid distractions. Don’t look at your phone when you’re driving. Your attention needs to always be on the road.
  • Don’t overreact. If you are the victim of children or teenagers throwing eggs at your vehicle, do not get out of your vehicle to escalate the incident. It is easier and safer to proceed to a car wash.
  • Plan ahead. Read up on Halloween Parade routes and be patient if you are delayed in traffic as a result of one. It’s for the kids, after all.
  • Unique Halloween-related issues. Be on the alert for criminals using the cover of Halloween to disguise their appearance. Also, children in dark clothes and costumes can be tough to spot, so stay focused.

Sources: NHTSA, AARP, Hereford Insurance

Article by Black Car News

Black Car News provides breaking news, editorial, and information to drivers, owners, and other key players in the New York City for-hire vehicle industry.

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