Autumn is just around the corner! And while fall comes with some much-needed cooler temps, it also brings along reduced daylight hours and other driving hazards. In this comprehensive guide for driving during the fall, we’ll give you the key factors to consider for a safe and successful fall journey.
Reduced daylight hours
Shorter days are one of the first indicators that fall is coming. For professional drivers, this may mean more time traveling without sunlight. Consider planning ahead and starting your day earlier so that you can avoid too much nighttime driving. As the sun sinks below the horizon, some people struggle to stay awake, making it important to have planned stops along your route if you need to pull over for a break.
Despite autumn giving us fewer daylight hours, it does pose a higher risk of sun glare. Due to the tilt of the Earth, the sun is closer to the horizon during the fall. The lower angle of sunlight creates a more intense glare on windshields and makes it difficult to see the road ahead. Be especially aware of this during sunset when the sun’s angle gets even lower.
Dirty windshields can make this problem worse. A pro tip is to be especially mindful of keeping your windshield free of dirt and debris during the fall. And, if you find you’re really struggling with sun glare, a pair of polarized sunglasses can go a long way in helping!
While foggy weather can occur at any time during the year, it ticks up during the fall months. Driving in fog means driving with reduced visibility. Make sure you slow down and allow for extra room between you and the vehicle in front of you. Always use low-beam headlights or fog lights if your truck comes equipped with them; never use your high-beam lights as they worsen the glare from the fog. If conditions become too dangerous, enable your hazards, and pull over in a safe location until the fog lifts.
Any road debris can cause serious risks for truck drivers. As leaves fall and the frequency of rainy weather increases, a picturesque scene of orange leaves and drizzling weather can take a wrong turn. Wet leaves stick to the pavement, reducing your tires’ ability to gain traction. They can also conceal potholes, bumps, and other hazards that can cause hydroplaning.
It’s best to avoid driving through leaf patches or piles to reduce the risk of an accident. If you’re unable to avoid driving through leaves, don’t brake or swerve abruptly; this can cause your tires to slide uncontrollably.
One of the greatest things about fall is that it ushers in the holidays! But it also spurs increased travel patterns. In 2021, AAA estimated that 48.3 million people would be traveling on roadways during Thanksgiving. This inflated number of people on U.S. highways leads to increased traffic flow and can increase the risk of accidents. Engaging in defensive driving practices can help ensure your safety in precarious situations.
Along with a higher number of commercial vehicles on the road, there’s an increased number of trucks. The fall season has a huge impact on the trucking industry as demands for shipping increase by the millions. This comes with an influx of new CDL-A drivers. Stay aware of drivers who may be getting their footing behind the wheel and remember: Everyone has to start somewhere!
And people won’t be the only ones traveling on and alongside roadways. Autumn is mating season for deer, meaning that their activity increases and they pose a serious risk to drivers, especially during dusk or dawn.
Be on the lookout for deer eyeshine caused by your headlights sweeping across them. It’s also important to stay aware of road signs that signify deer crossings. If you encounter a deer, avoid swerving, as it can cause your truck to jackknife or even roll over. If you drive slower and stay “animal aware” where wildlife may be more active, you’ll be better prepared to deal with any four-legged traffic!
It’s not only time to gear up for fall driving but for a sustainable, lifelong, rewarding driving career. Connect with us today to learn more about our opportunities for CDL-A drivers.