Autumn Leaves Present Driving Hazards

In the Fall, leaves are beautiful to see, but when wet or in piles, they present driving hazards unique to the season. Prepare for fall driving conditions by having your vehicles’ tires, brakes and wipers checked before heading out.

Most motorists know that puddles or standing water can cause loss of control, and adjust driving accordingly. But fewer drivers, especially inexperienced ones or drivers new to an area with heavy foliage, are aware of the dangers of wet leaves.

A single layer of wet leaves can make braking, steering and stopping difficult. This effect is particularly dangerous at intersections and is intensified at downhill stop signs. Acceleration can be affected, too. Fishtailing can result on leaf-strewn interstate entrance ramps and other areas where hard accelerations may be necessary.

Even when dry, leaves can present a challenge. Piles of leaves can obscure potholes, curbs and street markings and even present a fire hazard should leaves contact a hot muffler or tailpipe.

To maximize tire life and safety, check the inflation pressure and the tread depth, and inspect the sidewalls for cracks or punctures. As a general rule, tires should be rotated and balanced every 6,000 miles.

To help ensure the performance and safety of wipers, blades should be replaced every six months or when cracked, cut, torn, streaking or chattering. Only windshield washer fluid should be used, and it should be checked monthly.

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