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Fall Hazards For Drivers

Fall is a beautiful time of year in West Michigan but along with the crisp temps, football games and falling leaves come seasonally unique challenges for drivers on local urban and rural roads. From critters and weather to reduced sunlight and debris in the way, there are many fall hazards waiting for drivers in the greater Grand Rapids area this November.


Fluctuating Temps

While there are many hazards drivers must face during autumn in November, one of the most challenging ones is often the fluctuating and varying temperatures that we face in the greater Grand Rapids area. Meteorologists certainly do their best to give us their educated predictions on what kind of moisture we’ll be dealing with but certainly, Michigan drivers have come to understand too often that autumn weather brings it all to our area roads with rain, snow, sleet and even freezing fog which all can lead to a wintry mix and icy road conditions. Too often during this timeframe, black ice can rear its ugly head, leaving roadways looking like they are simply wet when they are in fact slick. Drivers should use extra caution on roads, particularly on bridges, overpasses and rural roads during times when temperatures are falling, such as after the sun sets and when wind chills cause temps to drop.  In addition, they can also use the vehicles ahead of them and how they are handling the road in order to gauge better what the real conditions might be. The best advice… when in doubt, slow it down.


Deer On The Move

In a recent study, Michigan ranked #8 as one of the worst states for deer collisions with the odds shockingly stacked at 1 in 80 of colliding with one. But if you live or work in Barry, Kent or Allegan county, this probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you in the slightest! As if that wasn’t enough to consider, it’s been shown that drivers are 3.5 times more likely to hit a deer in November than any other time of the year. This is in large part because of the deer rut that has doe fleeing from bucks and bucks giving chase.  Drivers should especially be on the lookout for any signs of deer on the side of the road as they travel at dusk or dawn in rural areas but also realize that deer can be moving at any time of day or night. Watch for the telltale sign of shiny eyes glowing as they reflect headlights and realize that as deer group up together for the winter, you should expect more deer to follow if you see one cross the road.


Less Daylight

As the days of fall shorten, the end of Daylight Savings Time leads to darkness falling very early in the evening, causing many drivers to manage their trek to and from work in the dark or at least in lower light as the months progress. In addition, late Fall in Grand Rapids can yield more cloudy days with rain or just dense cloud cover. All those dim days don’t just steal the limited direct sunlight we should be getting during the day, they can also reduce visibility and make it harder for drivers to see and be seen.  Remember to use your headlights more often during Fall and Winter months, particularly during inclement weather and at dusk or dawn. It’s also important to know if your vehicle’s headlights come on automatically and if they do, do they also result in your tail lights being turned on for those driving behind you? Many drivers forget to take into account, it’s just as important for other motorists to see you as it is for you to see them.


Debris In The Road

The changing leaves on the trees create a spectacular display of color but as they fall onto the ground, they can become a hazard to vehicles on the road. In addition to being slippery when wet, leaves can also create a barrier to water draining properly into sewer systems that could cause standing water on streets and vehicles to hydroplane. Be on the lookout for piles people have raked into the road, ones that have blown into the street, or where you’re likely to encounter fallen leaves in rural areas.


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