Missouri’s fall landscape presents a beautiful backdrop for drivers, but this season can also present unique injury risks that lead to automobile accidents. From tractors on the road in harvest season to holidays causing a spike in drunk driving accidents, it is important to recognize and respond to potential crash risks this time of year. Keep a few safety tips in mind to decrease the hazards of fall driving.
Beware of Fallen Leaves
One of the staples of fall, leaves that have fallen from the trees, can be as slippery as ice on a wet road. If you see leaves on the road, slow down to allow for extra braking time. Hitting your brakes suddenly on wet leaves could cause your vehicle to skid out of control.
Drive Safely in Fall Weather
Autumn in Missouri often comes with poor weather conditions. This includes fog, rain, sleet, ice and snow. Check the weather and avoid driving if dangerous conditions are predicted. Reduce your speed and increase your following distance in bad weather. If you are driving on a foggy fall morning, use your low-beam headlights or fog lights, if you have them, to help cut through the fog and improve visibility.
Prepare Your Vehicle
Maintain your vehicle ahead of Missouri’s cold season. Cold temperatures can alter the way your vehicle runs. As temperatures drop, for example, tire pressure decreases. You may need to compensate for this by adding air to your tires to maintain good traction on the road. Check your vehicle’s fluids, lights, windshield wipers and other components, as well. Be sure to add snow chains or switch to snow tires, as necessary.
Be Patient and Share the Road
In fall, Missouri roads see an increase in farm equipment traffic, including slow-moving tractors and harvesters. Agricultural machinery is not designed to travel at a high speed; most are capped at slow speeds that the operator cannot exceed. If you get stuck behind a piece of farming equipment, be patient.
Reduce your speed and following distance behind the farm vehicle. Wait for a safe time to pass. Keep in mind that the load on a farm vehicle may be wider than a standard car, making it more important to peer carefully around the vehicle to determine if it is safe to pass. Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the farm machinery while you pass.
Watch for Wildlife
Fall is mating season for many different animals, which can mean they are more active. Keep a lookout for animals that may be crossing the road, especially on rural roads in Missouri and at dusk and dawn. These are feeding times for animals that can cause a serious accident if you cross paths, such as large deer.
Be Careful in School Zones
If you have to drive through a school zone in Missouri, read and obey all posted signs. Decrease your speed limit and stay alert for pedestrians. Children are more likely to dart into the road and break pedestrian rights-of-way laws than adults. Drive slowly and be prepared to stop at a moment’s notice.
Don’t Drive Drunk
Fall is the start of the holiday season. Every year, holiday periods have the highest number of fatal car accidents in Missouri. Do your part to protect yourself and others by never drinking alcohol and driving. If you know you are likely to drink at a holiday party or gathering, arrange a safe and sober ride home, such as a ridesharing vehicle. Otherwise, spend the night where you are and drive home in the morning.
No matter how careful you are, it is not always possible to avoid vehicle collisions. If you get involved in a collision this fall, contact a Kansas City car accident lawyer at Dickerson Oxton for a free consultation about your rights.