If anything is predictable, it is that weather conditions will be unpredictable in the Fall. Here on the Front Range, we face a variety of seasonal driving challenges, and the Fall provides us with a few unique to the changing of the season from Summer to Winter.
Days are getting shorter, the temperatures are dropping, and there’s a lot more traffic. With many of us putting our bikes away and turning back to our cars to get to work, as well as kids going back to school, we will be sharing our roads and highways with a lot more drivers than we do in the summer.
- School Traffic:Drivers need to watch out for both stopping school buses as well as more pedestrian traffic as kids walk to school, or wait for a bus. Be alert to the needs of the kids early in the morning, and in the afternoon. Be patient, be courteous, and help keep our kids safe as they go back and forth from school.
- Daylight Savings Time: Not only our our allotted hours of sunlight decreasing to the changing rotation of our planet around the sun, daylight savings time means we set our clocks back an hour, making night time come earlier. This means driving in the dark coming home from work. We need to be extra cautious of other drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and even random animals wandering across the road.
- Leaves: As leaves begin to die and drop from the trees, they litter the roads, potentially making streets slick while obscuring traffic lines and other pavement markings. Matted up leaves on the road can hide everything from potholes to broken glass. When wet, a pile of leaves on the road can be as dangerous as driving over ice. Use a bit more caution while enjoying the changing of the foliage. It is great to look at, but not so great when driving on roads covered with leaf debris.
One of the best tips for Fall driving is to simply plan ahead for delays as well as wet driving conditions. Your auto technician will repair plenty of cars that got damaged due to a car sliding out of control, or going too fast for wet roads. Slow down in the Fall. Rain, snow and every combination we get in between the two will decrease visibility and cause hydroplaning. When you go to your auto technician or car store, get a good pair of windshield wipers capable of handling heavy rain and snow.
If you find yourself driving in a downpour, slow down, turn on your headlights, and avoid sudden movements, such as slamming on your brakes are trying to cut across car lanes. No one on the road can see any better than you, everyone needs to be cautious and careful. If you find yourself hydroplaning, keep the steering wheel straight and gently let your car move forward until you feel it making contact with the road. If you slam on your brakes while hydroplaning, you’re very likely to send your car into a spin out. Likewise, keep the tires straight, trying to turn the car when it has no real contact with the road will also result in spins. If conditions are just completely nasty, go ahead and pull over until visibility improves.
Winter CC Photo Courtesy of Kjell Eson
Fall driving also means fog. We can all pretend we live in England for a while as white wisps of vapor envelope our landscapes n the morning. Mountain areas will be harder hit with fog than the lower elevations. Fog tends to form in low areas surrounded by hills, water, mountains, and trees. When driving through fog, give yourself and other drivers plenty of space, to aid reaction time due to reduced visibility. Only use your low beam lights. Turning on your high beams will make your visibility worse, as the light from your headlamps will hit the fog water crystals and reflect right back to you.
We also will now be getting frost. In the Fall, overnight temperatures can drop quite dramatically, leading to water condensation in the air freezing, either as ice or frost. Not only will you be scraping frost off your windshield, ice will likely build up on roads and other driving areas from overnight temperature drops.
Be prepared for inclement weather and hazardous driving in the Fall. Here are some simple Fort Collins automotive tips to better equip yourself for fall driving:
- Check tire pressure. rapidly changing temperatures will deflate tires, so regularly check your pressure when you get gas.
- Clean your windshield, inside and out. A clean windshield is the best thing you can do to increase visibility. Be sure and have those heavy duty windshield wipers installed and ready to go as well. If your heating system, or defroster is having issues, get some maintenance on them before driving for any extended period of time.
- Be slower and more cautious. Driving conditions will get wet and icy. Besides being aware of school buses and school children on the roads, watch for wildlife. Herds of elk and other animals will be migrating to their Winter areas, and their favorite way to get to them is by accessing roads and highways.
For any needed Fall maintenance or automotive issues, be sure and come by Fort Collins Foreign Car Service to get your car into shape, we want everyone to be safe with well running vehicles to carry them through their days and nights here in Fort Collins.