October and November have the highest number of car crashes of any other months of the year, according to monthly data in the 2017 Virginia Traffic Crash Facts Report by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. With kids in school and back to business as usual, our roadways become more dangerous not only due to activity, but also from seasonal changes. Let’s countdown the top 5 fall dangers for Virginia drivers.
5. Creeping Fog
Cooler morning and evening temperatures against warmer fall days inevitably lead to foggy roadways just in time to set the mood for Halloween! This happens even more so in low lying areas, so be aware of a sudden change in road conditions. Slow it down and keep your distance from the cars ahead of you. Use your low beams, rather than high, and you’ll be in the clear, so to speak.
4. Sun Glare
The sun becomes a bigger issue for you as summer wanes. As our days get shorter, the sun moves closer to the horizon and makes it more likely to reflect at low angles and point straight into your car, especially with end of daylight savings. It also bounces off buildings, windows, and others cars making for some dangerously blinding driving conditions. Nothing that an easily accessible pair of sun glasses doesn’t cure. And make use of that visor too- it can quickly save you from a surprise glare!
3. Oh Deer! (And Other Critters)
Did you know Virginia often makes the list of top 10 worst states for deer collisions? The National Institute for Highway Safety states that you are 3.5 times more likely to crash into an animal, especially a deer, during November. And this year’s no exception: the time when deer are on the move to mate, known as rut season, is predicted to peak just after mid-November in Virginia. But you can expect deer and other animals preparing for winter to be active October through the end of November, and even into December if it’s mild.
Here are a few more tips:
- Be aware of roadside deer warning signs- they’re posted in that area for a reason.
- Deer travel in herds, so if you see one, more are bound to be close or following.
- Deer travel most frequently at dawn and dusk, just in time for your work commute. Use your high beams whenever possible.
- If you encounter an animal while driving, brake and do your best to not hit it, but do not swerve and risk running off the road.
And if you do hit a deer, no worries. Call our 24/7 Roadside Assistance at 800-913-8847 and report a claim online or call our Claims Hotline: 877-968-7252
By the way, we never raise rates for no-fault crashes, not even for all Virginia's deer collisions.
2. Diminishing Daylight
Our days are shortening and we return to standard time on November 5th. We may gain an hour of sleep, but it’s difficult to adjust after driving in long lasting daylight all summer. In the dark, your reaction times are much slower and longer. Low visibility conditions mean the need for increased stopping distances. According to the National Safety Council, 50% of traffic fatalities happen at night. So, slow down and take your time in the mornings and evenings. Remember, that’s when those deer are most active too! Don't miss our safe driving tips and keeping kids safe - it works for guys too!
Speaking of needing increased stopping distances, that brings us to the #1 fall driving danger!
1. Wet leaves and pavement
Yep, wet leaves and wet pavement is the number fall driving danger. If that surprises you, you should know the state of Virginia is more than 60% covered with trees with 15.72 million acres of forestland! Add fog and rain into a mix of this falling foliage. Then imagine this slick wet blanket covering a road filled with unsuspecting drivers with 105 pounds of hormonal wildlife zig-zagging across their path. Yikes!
This weather channel video gives you a good idea of how all those falling leaves get wet combine with speed and make for the most dangerous of all fall driving:
Folks, fall is a season of a whole lot of change in the Commonwealth and has a tremendous effect on your driving. BUCKLE UP (Failure to use seat belts or child safety restraints was a contributing factor for 52% of those who lost their lives in fatal auto accidents), SLOW DOWN (speeding contributed to 37.7% of 2017 Virginia fatalities), and DON'T DRIVE DISTRACTED (Distracted driving caused more than 20% of all crashes and 25% of traffic fatalities). Leave extra space between you and other drivers and extra time to get where you’re going. Keep our emergency roadside assistance number handy, just in case: 1-800-913-8847. And have a Virginia autumn that’s beautiful and safe and sound!