As the summer heat gives way to autumn’s coolness, the beauty of fall in Lancaster County is undeniably captivating. However, the fall season also brings unique driving hazards that can potentially lead to car accidents.
As a car accident injury law firm, we’ve seen firsthand how these hazards can turn a routine drive into a life-altering event. Here’s what you need to know about fall driving hazards, some tips to navigate these hazards, and steps you should take if you’re involved in a car accident.
Fall Driving Hazards
Many residents of Pennsylvania are surprised to learn the autumn months pose significant risks for drivers. In fact, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) yearly report on Crash Facts & Statistics reveals the frequency of accidents during the fall surpasses that of any other season.
Here are the most common causes of car accidents during the fall season:
Autumn ushers in a significant period in the life cycle of deer – the mating season. During this time, which usually lasts from late September to December, deer activity increases, particularly in areas next to our roads.
The surge in deer movement during the fall also coincides with the shortening of day length. This seasonal change not only triggers an increase in deer activity but also aligns with times when people are typically on the roads – early morning and late evening. As a result, the likelihood of encountering deer near or on roadways increases significantly during these months.
Fallen Wet Leaves
Vibrant colors of falling leaves often characterize the beauty of autumn. However, these fallen leaves can present a significant hazard, particularly during a rainy day. When leaves become wet, they can mimic the slippery conditions of ice. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, a roadway covered with wet leaves can be as treacherous as an icy one.
Leaf piles, whether on the road or sidewalk, can also cover up irregularities such as potholes, cracks, or other hazards. These hidden dangers could lead to unexpected bumps for drivers and pose a tripping hazard for pedestrians.
Sun glare happens when intense light from the sun overwhelms our eyes and temporarily disrupts our vision. In the fall, the sun sits lower in the sky and at a different angle compared to other times of the year. The result is strong, direct sunlight that creates a blinding glare for drivers.
This glare can severely impair visibility on the road, making it difficult to see other vehicles, pedestrians, and road signs clearly. It can also make it harder to perceive distances accurately, adding to the difficulty of navigating traffic safely.
During the fall, many regions, including central Pennsylvania, experience a noticeable increase in foggy conditions, particularly during the mornings. Reduced visibility due to fog can make it difficult to see other vehicles, traffic signals, or road hazards until it’s too late.
It is particularly problematic near bodies of water where the moisture content in the air is high. If you’ve driven over the Wright’s Ferry Bridge in the morning, for example, you’ve likely encountered a thick fog on occasion.
Fall Driving Tips
Now that we’ve outlined the hazards, here are some fall driving safety tips to help you stay safe on the road this fall:
Be Cautious During Dawn and Dusk
As mentioned above, deer are most active at dawn and dusk. For your safety and the safety of these animals, if possible, adjust your driving times to avoid these peak deer activity hours. Remember, deer often travel in groups, so if you spot one, there are likely others nearby. Go slow and stay alert.
Slow Down on Wet Leaves
Driving on wet leaves requires a heightened level of caution and adaptability. The surface properties of wet leaves can dramatically decrease the traction between the tires and the road surface, making it similar to driving on ice.
Reduce your speed when driving on wet leaves. A slower speed gives you more time to react to unexpected situations and decreases the stopping distance when braking suddenly. Avoid hard braking as much as possible since this could cause your vehicle to skid. Instead, brake gently and progressively.
It’s also important to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. This added distance will give you more time to respond to any unexpected occurrences.
Use your Sun Visor and Sunglasses
The sun visor in your vehicle is a simple but effective tool that can help block direct sunlight from your field of vision. Although it helps, the sun visor alone might not eliminate sun glare, especially when the sun is low on the horizon during early mornings and late afternoons.
This is where a good pair of polarized sunglasses comes into play. Polarized lenses work by filtering out the horizontal light waves that cause glare, allowing only vertical light waves to reach your eyes. This can significantly reduce the effects of sun glare, improving your visibility and comfort while driving.
Use Fog Lights and Low Beams
Fog lights are specifically designed to improve visibility in foggy conditions. Unlike regular headlights, which can reflect light back into the driver’s eyes in fog, fog lights are positioned lower on the vehicle and have a wide beam angled downward. This design helps to illuminate the road surface more effectively without producing excessive glare. When the fog is dense, drivers should rely on their fog lights (if equipped) instead of their high beams.
Low-beam headlights spread light across a wide area and aim downward toward the road, minimizing glare in poor weather conditions. Using low beams not only helps the driver see the road better but also makes the vehicle more visible to other road users.
What to Do If You’re Injured in a Car Accident
Despite our best efforts, accidents can happen. If you’re involved in a car accident this fall with another driver, here are steps to take to protect yourself and your rights:
- Ensure Safety: Check for injuries and move your car to a safe place if possible.
- Report the Accident: Contact the police and provide an accurate account of the incident. Wait for the police and EMTs to arrive.
- Document the Scene: Take photos of the accident scene, your vehicle, and any injuries you sustained.
- Seek Medical Attention: Even if you feel fine, some injuries may not be immediately apparent. It’s always best to get checked out by a professional.
- Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer: A lawyer can guide you through the legal process, ensuring your rights are protected as an accident victim.
Our Lancaster, PA law firm has a team of experienced personal injury lawyers ready to assist you in navigating the aftermath of a car accident. Fall driving can be hazardous, but with awareness and preparation, we can all contribute to safer roads this season.
Car Accident Injury Attorneys in Lancaster, Pa.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident with another driver during the fall months, it’s crucial to have an experienced attorney by your side to guide you through the legal process. At Georgelis, Larsen & Sabatino Injury Law Firm, P.C., our team of skilled attorneys and paralegals has extensive experience in handling complex personal injury cases, particularly those arising from car accidents during the fall season.
We can investigate the accident, collect evidence, and negotiate with the insurance company to achieve the best possible outcome. We provide personalized attention and compassionate representation, ensuring that you receive the care and attention you deserve.
We offer free consultations, don’t charge upfront fees, and only receive payment if we recover compensation for you. With our team on your side, you can rest assured that you have experienced and dedicated advocates fighting for your rights and well-being.
Contact us today to schedule your free consultation with one of our seasoned personal injury attorneys. Let us help alleviate the burden and stress of a car accident and work towards securing a brighter future for you. Call us at 1-800-HURT-NOW or start a conversation online to start the process of protecting your rights.