As summer ends and autumn arrives, the days get shorter; the trees dress in vibrant colors and the air takes on a familiar crispness. But autumn’s trademarks can also create mayhem on the roadway. Fog, fallen leaves and black ice can be particularly hazardous features of fall that very often lead to vehicle accidents causing increased auto body repair costs.
With warm days and cool nights, fall brings perfect conditions for forming fog. In fact, in some parts of the country, October and November are the foggiest months of the year. While potentially a pretty and romantic addition to a rural landscape, it can be deadly on the highway.
A recent highway accident in Wisconsin involving more than 35 vehicles was caused by heavy fog and the failure of drivers to slow down, even though visibility was close to zero. Ten people were killed.
Some who had managed to pull off the road safely said the fog was so thick they couldn’t see the accident, but heard the sound of cars skidding and crashing for more than five minutes. News pictures showed wreckage that was unrecognizable and a scorched section of pavement and grass that looked as if it had been firebombed.
According to AAA (American Automobile Association), tragedies like this can be avoided if motorists have a better understanding of how to drive safely through fog:
• Drive with lights on low beam.
• Reduce your speed.
• Avoid crossing traffic unless absolutely necessary.
• Listen for traffic you can’t see.
• Use your wipers and defroster as necessary for maximum vision.
• Be patient — don’t pass lines of traffic.
• Unless absolutely necessary, don’t stop on any freeway or other heavily traveled road.
• Consider postponing your trip until the fog clears.
Wet Leaves and Skid Spots
Trees can be awe-inspiring when adorned with dazzling orange and yellow leaves, but as leaves fall, a lovely avenue can turn dangerous and slippery. Always keep an eye out for wet leaves and other potential skid traps, such as shady spots, black ice and frost (particularly on bridges and overpasses) this could save you a trip to auto body shop locations. Black ice – a thin coating that is virtually invisible – forms when roadways warm enough to be wet during the day turn colder in shade or at night. Black ice can even form when the air temperature is above freezing!
For safety, as soon as you see a potential skid spot reduce your speed. If you do find yourself skidding, AAA says:
1) Don’t brake hard under any circumstance – but if it’s too late and you have already hit your bakes hard, release them immediately.
2) Reduce your speed, but don’t take your foot off the accelerator completely.
3) Use the highest gears possible under the conditions, and as you gently brake, move down in your gears to come to a gradual halt.