Photo By: Lance Cpl. Samuel Ellis
This time of year marks changes. Changes in the foliage. Changes in clothing choices. Changes in routines.
In addition to these overt changes, it’s important to alter our habits and practices, as they pertain to safety. Particularly, our driving habits should be considered and adjusted to accommodate the shift of the fall season. Driving is an activity that occurs year-round for most Marines and their family members; but this time of year presents a new set of challenges for which must be accounted.
Autumn presents a fresh set of challenges to your visibility, the first of which coincides with dwindling amounts of daylight. The sun sets earlier and this can pose issues when trying to spot playing children, pedestrians, or bike riders. Be aware of this limitation, and reduce your speed if you can’t see well. Headlights should be used in these situations, as well as in bad weather, which may prove troublesome for your vision on the road. If possible, try to avoid driving when it’s dark or when the lighting may interfere with your ability to see the road and any hazards clearly.
Additionally, while the bright, changing colors of the leaves are one of fall’s greatest pleasures, they can also potentially cause problems. Falling leaves may come down in sheets and alter your visibility. Even if they’re not falling, it’s easy for a driver to be distracted by the vibrant colors of the trees, which may detract from one’s attention to the road. Try to retain focus, and avoid becoming distracted too much by the pleasant scenery.
Beware of Children
Coinciding with fall is back-to-school season. With school buses dropping children off, it’s imperative to keep an eye out for young kids who may be crossing the street or simply playing nearby. Children also love playing in leaf piles, so be aware of this where leaves are piled near a curb.
Driving on Wet Roads
Many areas experience additional rain during this time of year, and safe driving practices are crucial in those dynamics. Be certain to keep a safe distance between yourself and the car in front of you, and afford yourself sufficient space to brake, in case you should skid on the road. Driving at a safe and reasonable speed given the conditions will help avoid issue with traction, as well. Additionally, wet leaves make roads extra slick; so be careful driving over those patches.
Wet roads also become even more precarious as the season wears on. Cooler temperatures leading up to winter may cause wet roads to become icy. Be cautious and drive at speeds that will allow you to negotiate those hazards safely.