Being cautious and focused is always important when behind the wheel. But, according to a recent study by automotive data company CARFAX, autumn is the riskiest time to be on the road. As we transition into the autumn season, here’s everything you need to know.
According to this study, more than 72% of U.S. drivers, equivalent to roughly 170 million individuals, reside in states where autumn stands out as the peak season for accidents.
Various factors contribute to this seasonal risk. Firstly, the days grow shorter, resulting in decreased daylight hours.
A typical commute home at 6:00 p.m. that once bathed you in sunlight during the summer months is now shrouded in darkness. It’s worth noting that although only a quarter of travel occurs during dark hours, roughly half of all accidents take place in these conditions.
Furthermore, the falling leaves, when combined with rain, can create slippery road surfaces, making it harder to control your vehicle. Braking on wet, leaf-covered roads can significantly extend stopping distances, often more than double that of dry roads.
Another factor to consider is the heightened presence of deer, particularly during October, even in urban and suburban areas. This surge in deer activity coincides with their mating season, occurring from October through December.
During this period, nearly half of all deer-related crashes transpire across the nation. Additionally, one study points out that deer-vehicle collisions see a 16% increase in the week following the end of Daylight Saving Time in November, due to the earlier sunset.
In some regions, the hunting season causes deer to dart across highways when pursued by dogs, posing an added hazard to motorists.
Faisal Hasan, General Manager for Data at CARFAX, commented, “CARFAX has the most accident and damage information, and sometimes that data can be surprising. The change of seasons is a good time for drivers to see if any new recalls have been issued for their car.”
While winter also presents driving challenges, only 23% of drivers reside in states where winter is the most accident-prone season. These states include California, Florida, New Jersey, Louisiana, and Vermont.
How to stay safe on the road
To ensure your safety during the autumn season and prepare for winter, drivers should focus on vehicle maintenance. Here are several important maintenance tasks:
- Check tire pressure: Sudden drops in temperature can cause tires to lose air quickly. Don’t solely rely on the Tire Pressure Monitoring System; check tire pressure monthly.
- Consider winter tires: Cold weather can harden the rubber in standard tires, reducing traction. In frigid regions, winter tires with special rubber compounds and tread patterns are a wise choice.
- Inspect your battery: Cold weather diminishes a battery’s power, increasing the risk of failure. If your mechanic finds your battery to be weak, replace it promptly.
- Verify wiper fluid levels: Slush from the road can splatter onto your windshield, impairing visibility. Carry an extra gallon of wiper fluid during the cold-weather months.
- Examine wiper blades: If you notice cracks in the rubber, your wipers may leave streaks. Wipe them down with Windex, and if that doesn’t improve performance, install new wiper blades.