Stay safe this fall with these tips for fall driving

With fall making its grand appearance this month, many hazards unique to this colorful season also make their debut. While fall’s orange, yellow, and red gradients are beautiful, they also serve as an acute reminder to pay attention to road conditions this season. Here are a few tips to help you navigate safely through this time of change.

Stay mindful and minimize distractions

It may seem like it goes without saying, but the number of distractions on the road are significant; these can include bright and flashing signs, other drivers’ behavior, and road work. Distractions inside the car such as passengers, the radio, and cell phones don’t do much to help, either. Instead of letting these distractions take hold, continue to bring your attention back to the present and focus on the road in front of you. Not only will mindful driving help you avoid dangers on the road, you may find yourself being less stressed as you focus on the single activity of driving.

Perhaps one of the biggest dangers to drivers in the fall are piles of leaves. Not only do children and animals often play and hide in them, there’s no way to know what is beneath that colorful pile on the street. It could be a fire hydrant or a bicycle that could do serious damage to your vehicle. Parking on leaves is also dangerous, as dry leaves could catch fire from the heat of your vehicle, and wet leaves could stick to your tires and cause a lack of traction on the road. 

Some other hazards to watch out for on the road include:

  • Deep puddles of water; some puddles can be deceptively deep
  • Children being more active in the early morning hours as they go back to school
  • School bus drivers who are still learning the new route or substituting
  • Lower angles of the sun and earlier sunset times cause visibility issues
  • Increased animal activity, especially deer
  • Snow and ice, especially in the latter part of the season

Check your tires

While an increase in mindful driving will help you foresee any dangerous road conditions, your vehicle cannot stop or swerve to avoid it if your tires aren’t properly maintained or inflated. There are two main things to pay attention to when inspecting your tires to ensure they’re road-ready: the air pressure and tire tread.

Tire pressure

Your tires should always be properly inflated to the specifications listed in your owner’s manual. Keep in mind that the number imprinted on the side of the tire is the maximum allowable pound per square inch (PSI), not necessarily the recommended PSI for your vehicle. Under-inflated tires increase road friction, which can lead to separations and blowouts along with unnecessary wear and tear on the vehicle. But adding too much air to the tire is just as dangerous. Over-inflated tires present an increased risk of both a blowout and certain safety features being compromised, such as anti-lock brake. These safety features are designed for tires that are inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations, and any deviations from this recommendation could lessen their effectiveness.

If you’re unsure if your tires are inflated to the right PSI, you can check the air pressure yourself (digital gauges are often more accurate than the pencil-style gauges), or bring your car into the Quick Lane at Garnet Ford, where we can test the tires for you.

Tread depth

Tread depth is just as important as ensuring your tires are properly inflated. Bald or worn tires provide little benefit other than separating your rim from the asphalt. With less traction, bald tires impede your stopping power and significantly affect your ability to control your vehicle. This is dangerous on a beautiful summer day, and downright deadly on a cold and wet fall day. Least of all, having tires that are too worn will not pass a Pennsylvania state inspection, as a minimum of 2/32 of an inch is the required tire depth.

How do you check if your tires are too worn? Perhaps you’ve heard that sticking a penny in the tire tread to see if the top of Lincoln’s head is a good method, but the most reliable way to check the integrity of the tire is by using a tool known as a tread depth indicator. This will give you a more accurate reading, but Quick Lane at Garnet Ford can also check your tires and, if necessary, offer you the appropriate replacement options.

No method of preventing an accident is 100% effective, but following the above tips and paying attention to the road can significantly reduce your chances of being involved in a collision. Traveling during the fall presents new hazards, but the end goal is the same: a safe trip for you and your loved ones.

If you have any questions about these tips, or would like to make sure that your tires are up to the challenges presented by the fall season, give us a call or schedule an appointment online. As always, you can also just drop by during our business hours, no appointment needed.