Don’t Fall into Bad Driving Habits This Season
Bring your car to AAMCO for a complete ProtectCheck® diagnostic. This will help identify any issues that need to be looked into and possibly repaired as seasons change and the cooler weather of autumn rolls in. See our current specials and coupons.
Seasons Change, Does Your Driving?
Autumn has always been a season that brings noticeable change, with its bright colors, wind and leaves, changes in temperature, different crops coming to market, and thoughts of impending winter. No more dog days of summer running crazy. We look forward to some time to slow down a little and enjoy some retrospect
Or do we really? As the hard, hot days of summer give way to the ever softer, cooler days of autumn, and things seem to slow a bit, so should your driving. Here’s why.
Effects of Daylight Savings
The first day of fall this year is Thursday, September 22. Daylight savings kicks in on Sunday, November 6. With daylight noticeably waning, temperatures cooling, and daylight savings pretty much setting our days to about 10 hours of useful daylight, we must adjust our lives accordingly, including our driving habits.
It’s been proven that this time change – which makes the daylight shorter, not the actual day in hours – can cause issues for people. It can throw off our circadian rhythms, resulting in sleep loss, slower mental processing and cognition, and loss of concentration. Autumn brings a noticeable impact on our daily cadence that is by and large centered around our time in the daylight (daytime).
Also, when “daytime” becomes shorter – days become dark sooner than we’re used to, and the sun comes up later – humans (being animals) go into hibernation mode. Our metabolisms slow down, so it follows that we slow down naturally in this season. Even though our modern world around us does not seem to slow, it most certainly changes, and as autumn descends upon us, we must take care to realize this and drive conscientiously.
Things to Be Aware of While Driving in Autumn
Position of the Sun During Peak Driving Times
As days get shorter, the sun’s rising and setting happens to coincide more and more with our peak driving times, AKA rush hours. In the morning we find that the sun is rising just level with our windshields, flashing across the land just above the ground. If we’re driving east, it seems to sneak in under the sun visor and scream “Good morning!” Alternately, in the evening on the way home, it does the same thing, except with a hearty, “Good evening!” if you’re heading west.
Sun glare during prime drive times can be dangerous and calls for sunglasses and slower speeds. Keep a pair of sunglasses in your car at all times and drive more slowly during morning and evening commutes. Keep your windshield clean, too – inside and out. That grime built up on the inside of your windshield from the heat of the summer can cause your windshield to become opaque if hit just right by the sun.
As Autumn rolls in, some regions see more frequent or heavy rainfall, as well as the potential for fog and reduced visibility. Avoid deep puddles and high speeds when the conditions are bad, and always keep plenty of stopping space between you and the car in front of you.
Headlights are as much for being seen as for seeing. Remember to use your headlights in adverse weather conditions. With the lower sun at key drive times, turn on your headlights to be better seen by other drivers. It could save you a world of hurt, particularly when crossing or turning at intersections.
Fog is a big problem for drivers. Nights get longer in autumn, and the night skies are often clear. In the morning, temperature inversion occurs and the fog sets in. Fog can become so thick that you cannot see beyond the end of the hood of your car, even in daylight. This is obviously dangerous, and even more so if you happen to be caught in fog at night. If you do have some visibility, keep your speed to a minimum, keep your driving lights on, or low beams (never use high beams in fog), and keep plenty of distance between you and the car ahead. Sometimes pulling over and waiting is the best option, but make sure you are sufficiently away from the road and keep your lights on. Breezy or windy mornings tend to be fog free, which brings us to the next element of autumn weather.
The changing colors of the leaves makes fall a favorite time of year for many people. As the winds blow and leaves fall from the trees, they become a ubiquitous aspect of our environment, on and off the road. With the wet and the cold, leaves on the ground can become slippery and dangerous. Take care when driving on leaf-covered roads, whether it’s raining or not. Leaves can also cause problems if they pile up between the hood and windshield, so clear them off your car regularly.
Children and Animals
Children are back to school and animals are busy preparing for winter (including humans). Look out for them. Slow down, keep an eye out, and be nice. If you drive through wooded or rural areas, be particularly aware of deer and other animals.
In general, autumn means we need to be more careful as drivers – but not because we’re not careful to begin with. As with any season, there are just certain factors that come into play that require our attention and adjustment to our driving styles.
Be sure to take your car to AAMCO for a complete diagnostic and get ready for an incredibly beautiful Colorado autumn.
If you have questions about your car’s readiness for any season, or about car repair and maintenance topics, AAMCO Colorado can help. You can also go online and use the AAMCO Colorado Ask a Mechanic feature to submit your auto repair questions. They will be answered by a real AAMCO Colorado mechanic as soon as possible.