By: Rich Gambrill

Autumn is upon us, and depending on where you are located, the leaves may have already begun to fall. The fallen leaves, rain, and extreme temperature changes create conditions of which drivers need to mindful at this time of year.

First, wet leaves are as slippery as ice, and even on a dry day, leaves at the bottom of a pile are still wet. Reduce your speed on tree lined roads and avoid hard braking, especially where leaves are gathered. Additionally, leaves can obscure the road lines and other markers, so pay attention to the edge of the road and be sure to remain in your lane.

Another thing that occurs at this time of year are extreme temperature shifts between night and day. While on a sunny day, the temperature could easily reach the 70’s or even 80’s, it’s also possible that they could dip into the 40’s overnight. This extreme temperature change is the perfect recipe for morning fog. As the morning dew or even frost begins to evaporate, it creates a mist that hovers over the ground. Expect it to be even more concentrated where roadways pass over or near a body of water. Always use your low beams and/or fog lights if your vehicle is equipped with them. Never use your high beams as the glare off the fog will decrease your visibility.

The autumnal equinox occurred on September 22, and in the days before and after that date, the sun glare at sunrise and sunset can make for some very difficult driving conditions; this is because the sun aligns perfectly with east/west roadways during this time. It’s best to keep a decent pair of sunglasses in your car and more importantly, be sure that your windshield is clean. Furthermore, learn to adjust your eyes. As we move toward winter, we will be losing one to two minutes of daylight daily. When traveling at night, or early in the morning before sunrise, give your eyes a minute or two to adjust to the dark before driving.

Finally, this is the season when deer breed, so expect an increase in the presence of deer on and near roadways. Be extra watchful as you travel through wooded areas or where deer crossing signs are posted.