While you might think of winter as the time to be extra cautious on the road, there are a lot of smart things you can do in the fall to prevent accidents or breakdowns. Between sun glare, fog, and a higher likelihood of seasonal hazards on the road (hello, deer), this is the perfect time to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you. Here are 6 ways to stay safe.
1. Check your battery
First things first: shorter days mean more headlight use, so you’ll want to make sure your battery is up to snuff. You can get it tested at your mechanic or auto parts store. Or, if you have experience under the hood, you can remove some of the corrosion with a wire brush. Either way, make sure you do it before the weather gets more extreme — there’s nothing worse than calling for a tow truck in the pouring rain or snow.
2. Check your wipers
Chances are your wipers just spent the entire summer baking in the sun, which causes melting and cracking. Before we head into a rainy, misty season, make sure your blades are in good shape since they’re about to get a workout. A good rule of thumb: if your wipers bounce or squeak when you turn them on, then it’s time for for a replacement. Ideally, they should be replaced every 6 months. Otherwise they’ll leave streaks, which could make it harder to see. A new set of blades costs about twenty bucks — just make sure to check with the clerk at the automotive store to ensure you’re getting the right size.
3. Be careful in the sun
While fall can mean more rain or sleet, it can also mean a lot of sun glare. Sunglasses are always handy to have around just in case things get bright. It’s also not a bad idea to clean your windshield regularly so you’re not distracted by streaks. And if your windshield is cracked, now is a good time to get it replaced.
4. Keep an eye out
Fall means the beginning of the school year. And that means more traffic and more pedestrians crossing the street. Be sure to use extra caution in the morning and afternoon, when children are likely to be out or at play. There’s also an increased chance that you’ll encounter deer and other wildlife (especially at night), so slow down and drive carefully.
5. Use your low beams
Love it or hate it, fog is part of the fall package, which presents another driving challenge. But whatever you do, don’t turn on your high beams. In thick fog, this makes visibility worse. So use your low beams and drive slowly when things get murky.
6. Take it slow
There are 2 major environmental factors that can make driving a little bit slippery: rain and falling leaves. Use caution if you see any large puddles or piles of leaves. And since these conditions may be common during autumn, it’s a good idea to give yourself a bit more time to get to where you need to go.
When it comes to driving in fog, rain, or on falling leaves, safety is always key (and don’t forget — winter and spring come with their own driving challenges). But with a few smart precautions and some careful driving, you can get right to enjoying the pumpkin pie and spiced cider.