We would like to take the time to remind everyone to please use extra caution while driving this time of the year. As you are all well aware of, there are many new hazards to watch for while driving this fall. Some of these hazards include children walking to and from school, school buses making routine stops to pick up and drop off kids, changing weather, (fog and frost) and farm machinery moving up and down the roads during harvest time.
Autumn is arguably one of the most beautiful times of year. But along with the changing leaves comes changing driving conditions. What should you do to prepare for the new season?
1. Steer clear of wet leaves.
The fall foliage is beautiful, as long as it stays on the trees. But once those leaves start falling, get wet from rain they can become a serious driving hazard. Wet leaves are slippery and reduce traction. They can also cover parts of the yellow and white pavement markings on the road, making it difficult to determine shoulder and lane widths. Additionally, wet leaves can get clogged under your wiper blades, impeding wiper performance and visibility. Always keep your windshield clean of leaves, and watch for wet leaves on the roads especially as you are making turns. Also, park free of leaf piles as these can be a fire hazard against catalyst converters.
2. Make adjustments for the light.
We lose a minute of daylight every day until the clocks are set back in October. And shorter days mean shorter light, making it more difficult to see pedestrians, cyclists, and children playing in the late afternoon. Be on the lookout. If night vision is a problem, adjust your driving times or find alternate, well–lit routes whenever possible. On the flip side, later sunrises mean drivers need to adjust to the brighter sun at different times of the morning. Always keep a pair of sunglasses in your car to shield your vision. Pull over completely if the sun’s glare affects your ability to safely see ahead.
3. Watch for frost.
Dipping nighttime temperatures bring frost to windshields and roads. Keep a windshield scraper and small broom in your car. Decelerate or gently brake when approaching bridges and overpasses: open surfaces are more prone to collect frost on the roadway surface. Keep alert for shaded areas that could create black ice during early morning and evening hours.
4. DRIVING IN FOG
Fog can be thought of as a cloud at ground level. It forms when the temperature drops to the dew point (the temperature at which air is saturated), and invisible water vapor in the air condenses to form suspended water droplets. Fog can reduce visibility to 1/4 mile or less, creating hazardous driving conditions. If you can’t postpone your trip until dense fog lifts — usually by late morning or the afternoon — follow these tips:
- Drive with lights on low beam. High beams will only be reflected back off the fog and actually impair visibility even more.
- Reduce your speed — and watch your speedometer. Fog creates a visual illusion of slow motion when you may actually be speeding.
- Listen for traffic you cannot see. Open your window a little, to hear better.
- Use wipers and defrosters as necessary for maximum visibility.
- Use the right edge of the road or painted road markings as a guide.
- Be patient. Do not pass lines of traffic.
- Do not stop on a freeway or heavily traveled road. If your car stalls or becomes disabled, turn your vehicle’s lights off, and take your foot off of the brake pedal. People tend to follow tail lights when driving in fog. Move away from the vehicle to avoid injury.
5. Plan ahead for harsher weather.
Have your car winterized before the winter storm season sets in. Keeping your car in good condition decreases your chance of being stranded in cold weather. (And as you high-mileage enthusiasts already know, it also increases the life of your vehicle.) Have your mechanic check your battery, fluids, ignition system, thermostat, lights, exhaust system, heater, and brakes. In your trunk, be sure to have a first aid kit, thermal blanket, a working flashlight, a shovel and sand.
And, as always, buckle up before heading out to enjoy all the fall has to offer. Be safe!
By: Aaron Guggisberg – Safety Director
AgQuest offers “one-stop shopping” for all of your agricultural finance and insurance needs, including operating loans, real estate loans, machinery & equipment loans and leasing, a full line of ag insurance options such as crop insurance, precision farming and Livestock Gross Margin Insurance.