Leaves, Darkness and Deer: Top Fall Driving Tips

How to help protect yourself and your car.

Winter’s snow and summer’s heat aren’t the only seasonal driving challenges. While there’s a lot to love about autumn’s beauty, the season poses some unique hazards on the road.

Here are fall driving tips and advice for protecting your car:


Fall foliage may be beautiful, but it poses some hazards to you and your vehicle.

Slippery roads

Wet leaves can be just as slick as ice. Slow down when driving over large patches of leaves, and increase your distance from the car ahead of you. If you do skid on wet leaves, don’t panic and don’t slam on your brakes. Instead, steer in the direction you want to go and release the gas pedal.

Camouflaged potholes (and people)

It’s more difficult to spot potholes, road debris and the curb when leaves are strewn across the road. Slow down to avoid hitting something that could damage your car. And never drive over a large pile of leaves—kids and dogs may be playing in them.

Fire hazards

Wet leaves aren’t the only culprit. Dry leaves can ignite from the heat of your car’s exhaust system or catalytic converter. To avoid this, don’t park on a pile of leaves.

Car damage

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Remove leaves from your car, both when you are parked and before you drive. Sap and acid from the leaves can damage your paint. Leaves can get stuck beneath your windshield wipers, making them less effective. And leaves that accumulate under your car’s hood can clog air vents and impact your ventilation system. Pro tip: Use your hands to remove the leaves—using a broom can scratch the paint. Bonus pro tip: Whenever possible, avoid parking beneath a tree.

Longer nights

Daylight saving time ends in fall, and you may begin driving in the dark more often. Maintain a speed that allows you to stop for an obstacle at the far reaches of your headlights. These quick headlight tips can also improve your ability to drive safely at night.

More fog

As the air begins to cool, the chance of fog increases. When driving in fog, reduce your speed in order to increase your reaction time. Driving with your low-beam headlights helps you more clearly see the roadway.

Roaming deer

You’re more likely to cross paths with deer during the fall, which is their mating season. Stay especially alert at dawn and dusk, when deer are most active. If you can’t avoid hitting a deer, don’t swerve—but do brake firmly and stay in your lane.

School buses

Grade school may look a bit different this year with virtual classes. But there will still be buses on the road, so be alert and slow down when driving near bus stops. Here is what you should know about sharing the road with school buses.

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