• Roy Bavaro

Seasons change. And so do the hazards.

I don't know about you, but I'm definitely a summer person. Bright sunshine, rising temperatures, longer days, shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops - come on, what's not to like?


Yes, the short-lived colors of autumn are sometimes pretty sensational, and a bulky sweater does feel good when the cooler air invades my space. It's pumpkin everything season, and the aroma of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves delight our senses. Family gatherings, holiday celebrations - ok there's a lot I like.

Yet during those fun times, those colorful leaves are falling, wind driven icy rains can make walking and travel treacherous, and shorter daylight hours creates its own set of hazards.

So whether you love the change of season or not, we all need to be aware of things that require special attention.

Kids

Kids are back in school, so be extra cautious especially during the hours when students are headed to and from school. Slow down when approaching a school zone, and watch for school busses stopped to discharge passengers. Obey the rules and don't pass a stopped bus as children may step out into the road unexpectedly.

Kids love Halloween. National Safety Council reports children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Lack of visibility because of low lighting at night also plays a factor in these incidents.

Click here to download everything you need to know to keep your kids safe on Halloween, courtesy of SAFE KIDS WORLDWIDE

Darkness

Days get shorter and the nights get longer. "When Daylight Saving Time ends, many people will find themselves spending more time driving in the dark,” the National Safety Council warns. “Depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision can be compromised in the dark, and the glare of headlights from an oncoming vehicle can temporarily blind a driver.”

Proper vehicle maintenance

Make sure your antifreeze is topped up – it prevents water from freezing up and it can also raise the boiling point of engine coolant. Falling leaves can leave streaks on your windshield so don’t forget to check your washer fluid too. It’s also important to keep your windshield and other windows clean to ensure clarity, as dust and dirt can reflect light which can further affect your vision.

Are your tires ready for the change of season? See a penny pick it up ... then use it to do a quick tire tread check. Firestone Complete Auto Care reminds us to place a penny head first into several tread grooves across the tire. If you always see the top of Lincoln's head, your treads are shallow and worn. Worn tires will respond poorly in adverse weather conditions like rain and snow and cause you to skid. With good treads, your car will grip the road better.



Weather, wet leaves and more


Wet leaves on the road and sidewalks can get extremely slippery, which can make driving, biking and walking difficult. It could be similar to driving on ice so reduce speed and maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Speaking of driving on ice, drizzle and falling temperatures can result in black ice - a thin coating of glaze ice on a surface that is visually transparent. Even though you may not see it, expect it during these weather conditions and be extra cautious.


The sun sits lower in the sky during the autumn season, so keep a pair of sunglasses in your vehicle and use your sun visor to help you shade your eyes from the sunlight glare.


Inexperience

Most teen crashes result with inexperienced drivers behind the wheel.

According to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, research has shown that newly licensed teens often fail to anticipate where and when to expect traffic hazards and driving hazards to pop up. Therefore, they do not do a good job of moderating speed and position of their vehicle to avoid them. Traffic hazard and driving hazard statistics show that failure to scan for hazards is one of three critical errors inexperienced teen drivers make that leads them to crash. The others have to do with not moderating speed for conditions and being distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle.

Because their search skills are underdeveloped, new drivers often detect a hazard later than experienced drivers, increasing their crash risk.


And don't forget a car emergency kit

National Safety Council reminds us Every vehicle should have an emergency supply kit in the trunk. Kits should be checked every six months, and expired items should be replaced regularly. Vehicle emergency supply kits should include:

  • A properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod jack

  • Jumper cables

  • Tool kit and/or a multipurpose utility tool

  • Flashlight and extra batteries

  • Reflective triangles and brightly colored cloth to make your vehicle more visible

  • Compass

  • First aid kit with gauze, tape, bandages, antibiotic ointment, aspirin, a blanket, nonlatex gloves, scissors, hydrocortisone, thermometer, tweezers and instant cold compress

  • Nonperishable, high-energy foods, such as unsalted nuts, dried fruits and hard candy

  • Drinking water

  • Reflective vest in case you need to walk to get help

  • Car charger for your cell phone

  • Fire extinguisher

  • Duct tape

  • Rain poncho

Additional items for cold weather include a snow brush, shovel, windshield washer fluid, warm clothing, cat litter for traction and blankets. It's also a good idea to keep family and emergency phone numbers, including your auto insurance provider and a towing company, in your phone.

Download AAA's "Advice on how to drive safely in the fall"

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