The arrival of autumn is a sight to behold. The leaves are changing colors, apples and pumpkins wait to be picked, and cooler temperatures make for great “sleeping weather.” With fall’s benefits, though, comes something more sinister: risk factors for injuries and property damage from car accidents.

The changing leaves

One of the most noticeable signs of the arrival of fall – other than the drop in temperature – is the beauty of color-changing leaves. Going “leafing” is a weekend pastime for families across our state, as we offer glorious vistas for viewing the fall colors.

Leaves are lovely to look at, but they can harbor a dark side. When accumulated on road surfaces, leaves can form a slick surface that might make tire traction less likely. Vehicles can skid or spin when they strike a layer of slippery damp leaves.

Leaves can also hide potholes or large puddles, both of which can cause a driver to lose control or hydroplane.

Beware of animals

Did you know that 1 in 100 drivers will strike an animal at some point in their driving lives? Or that the fall is the busiest time of the year for animal-versus-vehicle accidents involving large mammals like deer and elk? By the time you see an animal in your line of sight, it’s often too late to stop.

Driving slower in known animal crossing areas, as well as being on the lookout for signs of animal activity may help you prevent an accident.

Earlier darkness

As the year goes on, the days will once again get shorter and the nights longer. We’d grown accustomed to summer’s long days, but now it’s starting to get darker earlier. Twilight is a very dangerous time of the day for drivers, as visibility is lower, many cars don’t yet have their headlights on, and people around you might not realize that you can’t see as well.