Fall Driving Hazards to Avoid as a Truck Driver

When you are working during the fall, driving hazards are all around you. Fall means cooler weather, the leaves changing, and new driving conditions on the road. While you will get to enjoy the new palette of fall colors, you will want to keep your eyes out for obstacles that come hand in hand with the fall season. Road conditions vary from state to state and change with every season, but for those who may be experiencing their first autumn out on the job, here is our list of fall driving hazards to avoid as a truck driver.

Fall Driving HazardsTop 5 Fall Driving Hazards

1. Leaves on the Road

While the warm, bright colors of fall may be mesmerizing, depending on where you live you are likely to see larger amounts of debris on the road. Leaves can pose huge hazards for truck drivers, as it is impossible to sweep leaves from all of America’s roads everyday. Dry leaves can reduce traction between tires and roads, and piles of them could be used as a hiding place for animals or small children. Do not risk a crash by driving straight through; use your judgment and drive with caution around large leaf piles, and consider alerting highway patrol about the potential hazard so local authorities can address the cleanup issue.

Fall in many areas brings increased rainfall, which creates the danger of wet leaves. While one leaf may not pose any threat to a large truck, large amounts of wet leaves make roads slippery or cover up potholes, road bumps, ice, or traps that can lead to road accidents. Slow down in large wooded areas after a rain shower to avoid hydroplaning.

2. Harvest Equipment

Many crops come into season during the fall months, thus you are sure to see more harvest and farming equipment out on the road. It is legal for farm machinery to drive on public roads, and roads are the only way for such large equipment to travel from place to place. 

All through the season, trucks will have to share the roads with tractors, combines, trailers, animal transporters, and other equipment, and truckers have to be alert to protect themselves and others. Sometimes there will be signs to alert other drivers that a tractor is operational around the road, but other times they may appear somewhere unexpected.

Maintain a good amount of distance when tailing a tractor. These machines do not usually travel long distances, so try to keep your patience when waiting for your turn to pass a slow vehicle. It is better to be delayed a few minutes to be safe than speed past and cause a crash. It may take a while, but only overtake the slower vehicle when you are sure it’s safe. 

3. Animals

Seasonal animal behaviors create moving obstacles for drivers, especially at night. Some animals are moving south to warmer weather for the winter, and others are in the middle of their mating seasons; you will likely see an increase of wildlife activity between jobs. Small animals like squirrels are busy storing food for winter, while many large animals like deer, boar and moose will be travelling and battling for mates.

While driving in rural areas, be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to wildlife crossing signs, and drive slow in areas wildlife is known to frequent. Make sure headlights are functional before driving at night, and never drive faster than they can illuminate your way. Remember that deer eyes shine when light hits them, so you may have time to avoid a collision. If you spot a deer in front of your truck, ignore the instinct to swerve around it; you do not want the truck to lose balance and flip. Keep the truck straight and slowly break while maintaining control for the best chance of the both of you making it.  

4. Longer Nights

Falling back on the clock means less daylight hours and more traveling in the dark. As stated above, make sure headlights are functioning at optimum brightness before heading out. Increase your following distance between you and another car whenever possible. Less visibility means it is harder to judge distance, and you will want that cushion of space if there is a sudden stop. Along this line, check and adjust mirrors as often as you can, and keep your mirror and windshield clean of debris, bugs, and leaves. Prioritize safety above speed during these times. Get extra sleep, triple-check your safety measures, and do anything else you can to stay awake and alert while the sun is down. 

5. Winter is Coming

Fall is the harbinger of the icy winter months; now is the time to start preparations for cold weather driving. Be aware of your routes and check weather reports regularly to know the conditions you’ll experience on your trip. Make sure heating and cooling systems are working as efficiently as possible before heading into more severe weather for the first time this season. Fog and rain are common during this transition, and frost may begin appearing on your windshield as early as October. Inspect wipers and mirrors for sleet before heading out on your ride, and keep your eye on shaded road spots for black ice. 

If you often go through snowy or icy areas, consider installing snow chains or tread tires. Either way, check your car’s maintenance schedule to see if you are due for any repairs or updates and get them done early. You do not want to find out you need a new battery in the middle of a storm. 

Avoid Fall Driving Hazards with TDI

If you have been craving life on the open road like pumpkin spice, Truck Drivers Institute could be the way to satisfy your thirst for adventure. TDI is an adult vocational school spanning eleven campuses across seven states and a huge array of fall conditions. We provide everything a potential driver needs to pass their CDL test and get working in some of the most challenging environments in the workforce. We train drivers how to handle any obstacle, and we pride ourselves to produce experts in road safety. If the autumn wind is leading you in a new direction contact us today.

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