2023 Fall Safety Tips: How To Drive Safely in Damp and Foggy Seasons

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Fall brings cool and rainy weather, longer nights, more fog and falling leaves that can litter the street, all of which can prove to make driving more hazardous. As a result, autumn months have a relatively high rate of car crashes, so it’s important to follow fall driving safety tips anytime you get behind the wheel.

Read below for an overview of some of the most important safety tips for fall driving to keep your family safe and how you can prepare yourself in case you do get into a car accident.

Key Takeaways

  • Fall has the second-highest rate of deadly car accidents of all the seasons, with only summer outranking it.
  • You should drive slowly and stay a safe distance from other vehicles when driving through rain, ice, fog or darkness.
  • It’s important to keep an eye out for kids near school zones or school buses and deer on the side of the road.
  • Autumn can bring more sun glare, lower tire pressure and distracting leaves, so you should be prepared to adapt your driving habits as necessary in order to practice fall safety.
  • You may want to update your car insurance policy during the fall to make sure you are sufficiently insured in case of a collision or some other source of damage to your vehicle.

What Are the Most Common Fall Driving Hazards?

Hazards like wet leaves, fog, glare from the sun and road-crossing deer become more prevalent during the fall, which can result in an increase in collisions, serious injuries and subsequent car insurance claims. In fact, October and September have the fourth and fifth-highest number of traffic fatalities on average, ranking just behind the three summer months.[1]

Fall Driving Safety Tips: How To Prepare for Fall and Winter Driving Conditions

Keep reading to learn about some of the most common conditions that can make driving in fall harder along with important fall safety tips that can help you prepare for these situations or respond to them in the moment.

fall season most common conditions driving safety tips infographic

1. Adapt to Wet Conditions

You need to drive slowly and keep a considerable distance between yourself and other cars during or after a rainstorm because the road can become slippery, especially if there are several fallen leaves on the ground. Driving over wet leaves is similar to driving over ice in that they can make your tires lose traction and cause you to lose control of the vehicle.[2]

If you feel your car moving on its own because it is hydroplaning, you shouldn’t slam on the brakes since that could cause your car to spin out. Instead, take your foot off the gas pedal and allow your vehicle to slow down naturally while turning your steering wheel in the direction you want to go.

2. Know How To Navigate Through Darkness

Days start getting shorter and it starts getting darker earlier during the fall, which means you may end up driving in the dark more often than you did during the summer season. Like when it’s raining, you should drive more slowly and farther away from other cars at night since it may take you longer to react to visual information when it’s harder to see.

Make sure your headlights are functioning properly before you hit the road, use your high beams if there are no other cars nearby and, if possible, try to avoid two-lane roads where you will constantly have the light from other drivers’ headlights obstructing your vision. You should also drive especially slowly on neighborhood roads and keep an eye out for pedestrians.

3. Prepare for Cold Weather

Similarly, you need to practice caution when driving during or after a snowstorm and keep an eye out for black ice. If you do start to skid after driving over a patch of ice, you should respond by easing off the gas and adjusting the steering wheel like you would if you were hydroplaning.

If necessary, use an ice scraper to clear frost from your windshield and other windows before you leave your house. As you do so, you may want to start your car and allow it to warm up so the lubricating oil can work its way through the engine. However, your engine will heat up more quickly as you drive, so there’s no need to let your car idle for an extended period of time before you hit the road.[3]

4. Be Alert Amid Fog and Reduced Visibility

Fog is most common throughout the United States during the fall and winter and it naturally makes it harder to drive since you cannot see very far ahead of you when it’s foggy outside.[4] You should drive through fog slowly and make use of your low-beam headlights. Turning these on will also ensure your taillights are on, making you more visible to cars behind you.

You should also turn on fog lights if you have them. These should be situated lower than your main headlights so they can illuminate the road beneath the fog. Conversely, you should avoid using your high-beam headlights because fog can reflect bright light back at you, making it even harder to see the road ahead of you.

5. Mitigate Glare

Glare from the sun is at its worst around the fall equinox and can be especially dangerous when the sunrise corresponds with morning rush hour traffic. If you need to drive around sunrise or sunset, you can minimize the impact of glare by wearing sunglasses. You should also be sure to keep your windshield clean since dirt on the glass can amplify the glare.[5]

6. Watch Out for Children

As students return to school during the fall season, you need to be prepared to slow down in school zones and stop whenever a school bus in front of you has stopped or kids are crossing the street. You should also be especially vigilant right before and after school hours when inexperienced teenage drivers are most likely to be on the road.

You’ll also need to be careful when driving after dark on Halloween since there will be a large number of people traveling by foot, many of them children potentially dressed in dark-colored costumes that could be difficult to see during the nighttime.

7. Keep an Eye Out for Animals and Critters

Car insurance claims related to animal collisions are most common in November, likely due to an increase in deer movement during mating season.[6] As a result, you should be wary when driving through rural areas or anywhere else where deer and other animals could reasonably dart in front of your vehicle. In addition, you should remember that deer often travel in herds, so you should keep an eye out for other deer if you come across one in the road.[7]

8. Check Your Vehicle

It’s always a good idea to make sure your vehicle is in good condition before traveling a considerable distance but it’s especially important to double-check your tires during the colder parts of the year. Tire pressure typically decreases by one to two pounds per square inch (PSI) for every 10-degree drop in temperature, so you may need to pump your tires up more often in the fall.[8] It can also be helpful to make sure you have enough antifreeze, get your oil changed and replace your windshield wipers if necessary.

9. Check Your Insurance Policy

It’s a good idea to review your auto insurance policy at least once per year and the beginning of autumn could be a perfect time to reevaluate your coverage needs. For example, if you live in an area with a large deer population, you may want to make sure you have comprehensive insurance that will pay to repair your car after you collide with an animal. Similarly, you may want to raise your liability coverage limits if your city is prone to a large amount of rainfall and you are worried about your teenage child getting into a car accident.

10. Practice Safe Driving Habits

No matter the time of year, the best way to avoid costly car crashes is to practice safe driving habits. This means obeying traffic laws such as adhering to the speed limit and refraining from texting and driving.

While it can be tempting to admire the trees as their leaves change colors each fall, be careful so that your leaf-watching doesn’t result in a distracted driving accident. You should also make sure you don’t drive through a pile of leaves near the side of the road since children could be playing in it.

What Should I Keep in My Car During the Fall and Winter Months?

You should consider keeping an emergency kit in your vehicle in case you find yourself stranded on the side of the road after an accident or mechanical breakdown. Some of the most important emergency kit items to keep in your car as safety precautions in the autumn and winter include the following:[9]

  • Spare tire
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Drinking water and non-perishable foods
  • First aid kit
  • Duct tape
  • Blankets and jackets
  • Tools
  • Paper towels
  • Ice scraper
  • Rain poncho
  • Work gloves
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Are car accidents common in the fall?

The fall season has the second-highest traffic fatality rate of the four seasons, only behind summer.[1]

Should I avoid driving during the winter months?

It’s good to avoid driving in the midst of a storm when winter arrives if possible. If you do need to drive in freezing temperatures, be sure to drive slowly and keep a larger-than-normal distance between yourself and other vehicles.

Should I have my tires checked if I’m going on a road trip this fall?

You should have your tires checked before leaving for an autumn road trip because tire pressure drops more rapidly as it gets colder outside.[8]

Is it bad to drive in cold weather?

It’s fine to drive in cold fall weather if you need to but keep in mind that cold weather can worsen your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.[10]


  1. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “On the Road Again: Higher Driver Death Rate is a Downside of Economic Recovery,” Page 6. Accessed September 14, 2023.
  2. National Highway Safety Administration. “Four Tips for Driving on Wet Leaves.” Accessed September 14, 2023.
  3. AAA. “How Long To Warm Up the Engine Before Driving.” Accessed September 14, 2023.
  4. National Weather Service. “Radiation Fog.” Accessed September 14, 2023.
  5. National Weather Service. “The Autumnal Equinox & Dangers of Windshield Glare,” Pages 3-4. Accessed September 14, 2023.
  6. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “Deer Season Means Animal Strike Season on the Roads.” Accessed September 14, 2023.
  7. Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “Drivers: Know How To Avoid Deer on Roads.” Accessed September 14, 2023.
  8. Firestone Complete Auto Care. “Should I Inflate My Tires in Cold Weather?” Accessed September 15, 2023.
  9. California Highway Patrol. “Roadside Emergency Kit.” Accessed September 15, 2023.
  10. United States Department of Energy. “Fuel Economy in Cold Weather.” Accessed September 15, 2023.

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