It's that time of year again - the colorful foliage and fall festivities are in full swing. Like every season, however, fall has its own set of driving risks. Knowing the dangers that are just around the corner is the first step to being prepared.
Here is what you should know.
Drowsy driving will likely increase in the fall
Daylight saving time will happen on Sunday, November 3, this year. This means everyone will gain one hour of sleep. Counterintuitively, that one-hour difference will likely have many people driving tired in the days that follow, as they adjust to the time change.
According to WebMD, daylight saving time can have an impact on our circadian rhythm - our body's internal clock that programs us to sleep or be alert. Being sleep deprived during daylight saving time can be dangerous, especially for those who plan on driving. It can likely result in poor concentration, poor memory, increased fatigue, and daytime drowsiness.
In addition, the decreased hours of daylight can also influence our circadian rhythm to program us to be more drowsy behind the wheel. With increased darkness, our bodies naturally produce more melatonin - a hormone that induces sleep. In order to reduce the chances of dozing off behind the wheel, drivers should get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
In order to adjust to the time change, WebMD suggests:
- Taking short naps after the time change and avoiding sleeping in late
- Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule of going to bed and getting up at the same time each day
- Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least three times per week
- Avoiding alcohol and caffeine intake near bedtime
- Eating light in the evening
- Relaxing and reducing stress before bedtime
- Creating a comforting and sleep-friendly environment
- If you can't sleep, get up and find a way to relax
Nighttime visibility may be impacted
Nighttime driving during the fall poses some visual risks, especially for those with cataracts - an eye condition that affects many older drivers. U.S. News & World Report describes cataracts as "a clouding of the lens over the eye."
The most prevalent complication of cataracts is difficulty seeing at night while driving, and sensitivity to headlight glare from oncoming vehicles. In order to minimize the risk, U.S. News & World Report suggests that older drivers try using two types of lenses that can reduce visibility challenges. These include:
- Progressive lenses: These multifocal eyeglasses are designed to help people with cataracts and other visibility issues see clearly at all distances. Driving at night with the newer progressive lenses is likened to "driving on a six-lane, well-lit highway."
- Crizal lenses: These eyeglasses are designed to cut down on glare caused by headlights and reflections from the road that can hinder visibility.
Watch out for slippery roads
Wintertime may not be here yet, but that doesn't mean we won't get a glimpse of it within the next month or two. Here is why roads can get slick this time of year:
As beautiful as fall foliage can be, many roadways will be covered in wet leaves - especially those in heavily wooded areas. A video by the Weather Channel explains why driving on wet leaves can be dangerous:
- Leaves have a waxy coating that repels water, making them just as slippery as ice.
- When traveling at 45 mph, it can take up to 200 feet to come to a complete stop when driving on wet leaves.
The video demonstrates the risks of driving on wet leaves by using a 3D model of an SUV driving on a rural road:
Frost, ice, and snow:
Frost often appears in October as the temperature dips below freezing overnight. If there are any wet spots on roads, those spots may freeze and create the potential for black ice.
If you don't think it snows in Connecticut in October and November, think again. We may not receive as much snowfall this time of year as we do during the winter months, but once it comes, it can take many drivers by surprise. For this reason, drivers should pay attention to the weather forecasts and be prepared to give themselves more time to reach their destination during snowfall.
The car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli wish everyone a safe fall driving season this year. However, if someone else's reckless and irresponsible actions resulted in you being injured in a crash, we can help. Contact us online today to schedule your free case evaluation.