• Ronald Wittmeyer
  • September 21, 2013

Illinois is a state of four distinct seasons and each season presents its own unique driving conditions. Astronomically, the fall season in the northern hemisphere, including Illinois, begins on September 22nd. As Illinois residents transition from summer’s hot and dry conditions to fall’s waning temperatures, safe conditions begin to quickly deteriorate and the roads become more dangerous for fall driving.

The first major characteristic of fall weather is unpredictability. Many picture fall driving with the company of the changing leaves and the marvelous feel of the crisp cool autumn air, while this can be true, conditions can change from perfect to miserable in minutes. Fall rainstorms tend to be abrupt and heavy. In the fall, rain is especially dangerous because rubber and oil buildup on the roads from heavy summer traffic can make generally unassuming surfaces very slick. Along with the slick roads, the suddenness off of fall storms can also greatly increase a driver’s risk of hydroplaning. This is also important to remember if you use public transportation to travel in the fall.

Falling temperatures also offer their own unique challenges. During the fall months, always remember that bridges freeze first because they are exposed on both the top and the bottom. Usually thought about in regards to winter driving, colder temperatures also increase the risk of a driver’s worst nightmare, black ice, as the lower temperatures impact fall driving. Black ice got its name for one terrifying reason, it is invisible, and causes many car accidents. Black ice usually forms underneath overpasses, on top of bridges or in shaded areas. This hazard can cause an accident when you least expect it, so drivers need to use caution when there is evidence of moisture on the roads as temperatures fall. (Source 2)

The word fall was made, as during autumn the leaves fall off trees. This phenomenon, despite its trademark beauty, can present problems for fall driving if these leaves are wet or are in piles on the roads. Wet leaves can affect a driver’s ability to stop their vehicle. Also, piles of leaves that have made it onto the road can hide potholes, curbs and street markings.

Once out on the road during autumn it is essential that drivers pay attention to changing weather and road conditions. Frost, black ice, rain, hail, sleet and falling leaves all present hazards of which drivers need to be aware. Additionally, as you remove your boats from waterways, remember to be safe on lakes.

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