2010-09-30 / Local & State

Motorists Reminded Of Fall Driving Hazards

With autumn’s arrival, PennDOT reminds motorists that wet leaves, fog, sun glare, frost and deer are a few of the driving hazards they may encounter while driving and encourages motorists to follow safety tips to make their travel safer.

“By being alert and aware of the special driving challenges that fall brings, motorists can help to reduce their risk of being involved in a crash,” said PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. “Motorists can be proactive by paying attention to their surroundings and allowing extra time for their commutes.”

Drivers should slow down and use extra caution on leafcovered roadways. Wet leaves are extremely slippery and can hide traffic lines and pavement markings, making driving in unfamiliar areas more difficult.

As overnight temperatures drop toward freezing, motorists should also be alert for frost and icy spots, especially on bridges, overpasses and shaded areas on the roadways. Morning drivers should also fully clear all windows of frost before heading out and keep a close watch for students walking or awaiting buses along their route.

Sun glare can pose a problem as sunrise and sunset coincide with morning and evening rush hours. Intense sun glare can blind a driver and cause sudden traffic slowdowns. Motorists should prepare for glare by keeping sunglasses handy, removing items from above sun visors and keeping their windshield clean.

Deer are an expected roadway hazard in the fall, especially during the breeding season when they become less cautious and move around more. Primarily nocturnal feeders, deer are most active between sunset and sunrise.

According to PennDOT statistics, 46 percent of all reportable crashes in the past five years involving deer occurred in the months of October and November, with nearly 78 percent occurring between 5 p.m. and 6 a.m. Last year, there were nearly 3,000 crashes statewide involving deer, resulting in more than 600 injuries and five fatalities.

To reduce the risk of being involved in a crash with a deer, motorists should slow down, use caution and be especially watchful during morning and evening hours when wildlife is most active. Motorists should also increase following distance between vehicles, particularly where deer crossing signs are posted. Since deer often travel in small herds, motorists should exercise caution when one deer crosses a roadway as it will likely be followed by others.

If a dead deer presents an obstacle or safety hazard on state roads, motorists can call 1-800-FIX-ROAD to have the deer removed.

PennDOT offers these additional fall driving tips:

Check you vehicle’s headlights, taillights and turn signals to ensure they are working properly, since darkness will be part of many drivers’ morning and evening commutes.

Have your vehicle’s heating and wiper systems checked to ensure they are working properly. Pennsylvania law requires you to turn on your headlights whenever your wipers are in use.

Tires should have sufficient tread depth in case of an early season snowfall.

Visit www.511pa.com or call 511 from any phone to check traffic conditions before heading out. PennDOT urges motorists to avoid calling 511PA while driving. Motorists should safely pull off the road before calling the system, or check online for travel delays before leaving home.

For more fall safety tips and other highway safety information, visit www.DriveSafePA.org.

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