Being a safe driver is important throughout the year, and fall brings a few extra challenges for even the most conscientious motorist. Since school is back in session, buses are out on the roads, kids are walking to and from school, and traffic tends to be heavier. At the same time, harvest season means you’ll be sharing the road with an increased number of trucks and farming machinery.
The following tips can help keep you safe as you navigate the challenges associated with driving in the fall:
When leaves begin to fall, wet leaves on the roadway can cause slippery conditions and obscure traffic lines. Sun glare and fog can also cause roadway conditions that warrant caution. Make sure to slow down and be prepared for these conditions.
As it gets later into the year, remember it may be darker and more crowded on the road during rush hour. This is a good time to check the headlight and signalling bulbs on your vehicle to make sure they are operational. With more insects flying around during harvest time, it’s also important to keep your windshield clean for a clear view while driving at night.
Kids can walk from in between parked cars or other unexpected places, so drive cautiously and be on constant alert when you’re near schools. In addition, kids may be on their cell phones as they’re walking to or from school, so they may not be attentive to the traffic around them. Finally, keep an eye out as you drive in neighborhoods before and after the school day as children come and go.
Make sure you have enough room to clear a crosswalk before entering it, especially when you’re near a school. If you block a crosswalk, you’ll force pedestrians to walk around it, possibly putting them in the way of oncoming traffic.
Yellow flashing lights on a school bus mean that it’s preparing to stop, so you should slow down and be prepared to stop as well. If the red light is flashing, stop at least 20 feet behind the bus and wait until it stops flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and the bus starts to move. Check here to make sure you understand Illinois laws pertaining to motorists and school buses.
Be prepared to lower your speed to 20 mph and take extra care when entering a school zone. And don’t pass cars in front of you in or while near a school zone, since you may not be able to see a child passing in front of them.
Some schools have school crossing guards stationed at crosswalks or intersections, so keep an eye out for them and obey their signals. If they do not, be sure to unload your children on the same side of the road the school is on so they don’t have to cross any roads.
It’s illegal in Illinois to operate a mobile handheld device while your vehicle is in “drive.” The phone shouldn’t even be in your hand while you’re driving, so if you need to check a message, look for directions, or answer a call, pull over to a safe place and park first.
Since farm equipment is probably only moving between 15 and 25 mph and you may be going much faster, you’ll quickly be right behind the vehicle and need to slow down far in advance. If the farm vehicle is coming toward you in another lane, a vehicle behind them could suddenly pass them and move into your lane unexpectedly. So proceed cautiously.
Farm machinery can be large, so it may take up more than one lane, forcing you onto the shoulder. If this happens, proceed with caution. If machinery is half on the road and half on the shoulder, be aware that it may suddenly move farther out into the road.
Remember, it’s illegal to pass when there’s a double yellow line on the road. You’ll just need to be patient and wait until the equipment’s driver pulls off. Usually they’re quite courteous and will pull over if you’ve been following for a while or if there are several more vehicles behind you.
Harvest season often increases the movement of deer as they move to food sources. Watch your speed and keep a watchful eye out for deer, which can dart into the road suddenly. Read Deer Safety: Tips for Avoiding a Collision for more advice on how to avoid a collision with a deer.
If you’re in a collision this fall and need an auto body shop nearby, contact Newell’s Auto Body in Decatur, IL. We’ve served area drivers since 1958 and are able to get your vehicle repaired quickly due to our advanced processes and the use of a repair plan.