Autumn is many people’s favorite time of year, and it is easy to see why when much of the country enjoys gorgeous fall foliage throughout the season. Apple pie, fireplaces, and pumpkin spice everything become obsessions, and lots of people secretly wish away the last sticky days of August, dreaming of cool September nights.
With these autumn delights come heightened risks while driving, though. The cooler weather can bring disaster on the roads, but you can reduce your risk of accidents in the fall with a bit of preparation.
Read on to learn more about some common autumn driving risks and fall safety tips to help you reduce these risks.
Autumn Creates Additional Driving Hazards
Along with the bright foliage and chilly nights of autumn come additional driving hazards.
Commuting in the dark. Throughout the fall, and even more so after Daylight Saving Time, you spend more time driving in the dark. Your morning and afternoon commute are often in the dusk or dark hours—and nighttime driving is riskier. 50% of traffic deaths happen at night, so it is worth taking extra precautions when driving in the dark.
Kids are back to school. Schools are back in session, and many districts welcomed children back in person this year. This means school buses are back on the roads, and kids are walking or biking home in the afternoon. New teen drivers are driving to school and part-time jobs, and parents are back to lining up in the car rider line, sometimes having no choice but to block local streets. All of this means you have to pay more attention when driving and remember you’re again sharing the roads with unpredictable kids.
Wet leaves are a hazard. Fall rainstorms on top of fallen leaves can create slick conditions on the roads quickly. Your tires can lose traction momentarily on dry leaves, too, causing scary moments behind the wheel. Residents tend to pile bags of leaves and yard waste by the road for collection, which can easily obstruct your view when turning or going around curves.
Cooler weather brings snow and ice. Winter driving is just around the corner, and fall brings the first frost in many places. Higher elevations see snow in September and October, and bridges start to ice before freezing temperatures. These autumn weather conditions cause accidents and fender-benders.
Deer are more active in autumn. Hunting and mating seasons are in the fall, and white-tailed deer have a small home range. They are more active in the autumn and tend to move around searching for food as the frozen landscape limits their options. With darker driving conditions for more of the day, it’s easy to hit a deer with your car when driving in more rural or suburban areas.
Reduce Autumn Driving Risks with Fall Safety Tips
You can reduce these autumn driving risks by using some of these fall safety tips.
Limit driving after dark.
It’s not always possible to stop driving after dark, but if you’re able to reduce how much nighttime driving you do, it can reduce your risk of an accident. Consider moving your work hours so more of your commute is in the daylight or move appointments to weekend days.
Reduce driving distractions.
Invest in a hands-free mount for your mobile phone and or keep it in your pocket while driving. Turn on the feature to automatically set to “do not disturb” while you’re driving so you’re not tempted to glance at incoming notifications. It’s hard to be distracted by the text you didn’t know you received.
Pay attention to your location.
You should always focus on where you are when you’re driving, but paying extra attention when driving around schools, YMCAs, youth centers, playgrounds, and other locations kids congregate in the mid-afternoon hours is a safe driving tip. Kids chase balls, dogs, and each other into the street randomly, and you can’t always predict their actions, but you can drive defensively and use care in kid-friendly areas.
Winterize your car.
Do a winter safety check of your vehicle now. Fluids, brakes, windshield wipers, and tires are an excellent place to start. Put your snow scraper back in your car and consider stashing your winter survival kit in your trunk now. Keep your gas tank full and charge your mobile phone before long trips.
Agents Can Help Their Policyholders Prepare for Autumn Driving Risks
Now is the time for agents to share these fall safety tips and others with policyholders. Sending a newsletter or sharing via social media lets you connect with your mailing list efficiently. Talk with your insureds during renewals and when quoting new business to make sure they’re prepared for the upcoming colder weather.
Do you have a lot of families with teen drivers? You might consider offering a safety course for teens to teach them fall safety tips and how to reduce their risks in colder weather driving. Review coverage with your policyholders—if they don’t have comp and collision, make sure they understand they’ll be on the hook for small fender-benders from sliding on ice and wet leaves. Helping your policyholders understand their coverage is critical—both for their building their customer satisfaction and reducing your E&O risk.
Try some of our fall safety tips to reduce your autumn driving risks and read more about auto insurance coverage on our blog. Members of the American Agents Alliance enjoy educational resources, valuable member discounts, and access to our exclusive E&O insurance. Reach out today to learn more!