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Safety tips for autumn driving

September 26, 2012
The Daily News

The autumn sun sure feels good, especially after a week of cold and rain.

However, the sun can cause problems, too, especially for motorists.

Traffic experts reminding motorists that the start of the fall season means that sun glare (mainly on east-west routes) can make driving more hazardous during morning and evening commutes.

Driving through school bus stops and road work zones can also be more hazardous when the sun glare exists at certain times of the day.

While it may seem obvious, but this seasonal concern needs motorists' extra attention.

Intense glare from the sun on the horizon has the potential to blind drivers, causing unexpected slow downs.

Motorists can better prepare for this glare by keeping their windshield clean inside and out, using their visor, and keeping a pair of sunglasses in the vehicle.

Leaving more space between you and the vehicle in front of you is one key to avoiding an unwanted crash in certain autumn conditions, traffic experts say.

Other potential safety hazards exist every year as well, like wet, fallen leaves and frost.

Autumn driving has its own unique set of challenges.

Traffic safety officials offer the following autumn driving safety tips:

- Make adjustments for the light. Did you know that we lose a minute of daylight every day until the clocks are set back in November? Fewer hours of daylight make it more difficult to see pedestrians, cyclists and children playing in the late afternoon. Also, later sunrises mean that drivers need to adjust to the brighter sun at different times of the morning. Always keep a pair of sunglasses in your car to shield your vision.

- Steer clear of wet leaves. Fall foliage is beautiful but once those leaves start falling and get wet from rain, they can become a serious driving hazard. Wet leaves are slippery and reduce traction.

- Don't Veer for Deer. If a crash with a deer is unavoidable, remember don't swerve. Be sure to brake firmly and hold onto the steering wheel with both hands. Come to a controlled stop and move the vehicle out of traffic to a safe location.

- Prepare an emergency kit for your car. Carrying an emergency kit in your car trunk or cargo area can be a real lifesaver. Be sure to include a flashlight, flares and a first-aid kit, jumper cables, extra washer fluid, nonperishable food, a jug of water, and a few basic tools such as wrenches, a ratchet/socket set, screwdrivers, and pliers.

- Watch for frost. Dipping nighttime temperatures bring frost to windshields and roads. Be sure to clear your windshield completely before driving. Also, decelerate or gently brake when approaching bridges and overpasses, as open surfaces are more prone to collect frost on the roadway surface. Stay alert for shaded areas that could create black ice during early morning and evening hours.

- Plan ahead for changing weather conditions. Have your car winterized before the winter storm season sets in. Keeping your car in good condition decreases your chance of being stranded in cold weather. Also, be sure to have a first-aid kit, thermal blanket, a working flashlight, a shovel and sand in your car.

- Watch for construction work zones. Construction work zones may still be active. Consult the Michigan Department of Transportation's Mi Drive traffic Web site to plan your route. Please remember to slow down and pay attention in work zones. The life you save could be your own.



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