Did you know that October is one of the most dangerous months of the year on Virginia highways? In October 2019, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles reported 12,568 traffic crashes statewide, which resulted in 86 fatalities and 6,036 injuries, the highest totals for any other month last year. November brings it's own unique challenges for Virginia drivers and your car insurance.
With summer in the rearview mirror and kids back to school, our roadways become more dangerous due to increased activity and seasonal changes. While schedules anything but normal this year due to the pandemic, we should still be aware of fall dangers on the road. Let’s countdown the top five fall dangers for Virginia drivers and how to cope with them. Number one will surprise you!
#5 Creeping Fog
Chilly morning and evening temperatures combine with warm fall days inevitably lead to foggy roadways just in time to set the mood for Halloween! Fog occurs 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 significant issue for drivers 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 other vehicles, creating some dangerously blinding driving conditions. Nothing that an easily accessible pair of sunglasses won’t cure. This a good time to clean the inside of your windshield. That accumulation dust, smudges, and smears is magnified when your windshield reflects bright light. Make use of that visor too- it can quickly save you from a sudden glare!
#3 Oh Deer! (And Other Critters)
Did you know Virginia often makes the list for top 10 worst states for deer collisions? That's why our auto insurance includes no-fault deer collision claims. You won't have to worry about your rates increasing for these common incidents. Then, be especially on guard from early October to late November for rut season, when deer are on the move to find a mate. You should expect deer and other animals to be active even into December in Virginia.
Here are a few tips to avoid a collision:
- Be aware of roadside deer warning signs- they are 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.
#2 Diminishing Daylight
Our days are shortening and we return to standard time on Sunday, November 1st. We may gain an hour of sleep, but it isn't easy to adjust after driving in long lasting summer daylight. In the dark, your reaction times are much slower and low visibility conditions call 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.
Speaking of increased stopping distances, that brings us to the #1 fall driving danger.
#1 Wet leaves
Yep. The fact is 60% of the state of Virginia is covered with trees with 15.72 million acres of forestland! Add a fog and rain mix into this fall driving equation. You get a slick wet blanket covering a road filled with unsuspecting drivers and 105 pounds of hormonal wildlife zig-zagging across their path. Yikes!
This weather channel video gives you a good idea of how wet leaves combine with speed and make for the most dangerous of all fall driving:
So to stay safe this fall and keep your car insurance rates low:
- BUCKLE UP (Failure to use seat belts or child safety restraints was responsible for 52.6% of all 2019 traffic fatalities)
- SLOW DOWN (speeding contributed to 42.2% of all traffic fatalities Virginia fatalities)
- DON'T DRIVE DISTRACTED (Distracted driving caused 23,246 crashes in 2019).