A Message to Our Clients About COVID-19Read More »

How can Truck Drivers Prepare for the Fall Season?

Posted on: October 19, 2020

With the fall season comes unique dangers for New Jersey truck drivers. Some of the main hazards for which drivers should be particularly aware during this time include adverse weather, slick roads, and longer nights. Preparing for these potential dangers ahead of time can help drivers avoid getting into truck accidents. In addition to following road safety rules, there are also various ways drivers can prepare their trucks for the fall season in order to safeguard themselves as well as others on the road.

Operating a motor vehicle is risky any time of year but fall presents its own driving challenges. When driving in New Jersey this fall, motorists must be prepared for hazards that are unique to the season, such as the following:

Sun Glare

In the fall, sun glare gets worse. During this time, the sun is closer to the horizon. This lower angle of the sunlight creates a glare when it hits drivers’ windshields, thereby blinding them and obstructing their view of the road. Also, days are shorter during the fall season, meaning drivers will spend more time on the roads when the sun is setting. This is an especially dangerous time because when the sun is setting behind a driver; it can bounce off their rearview mirror and create a blinding glare.

Dirty windshields only make sun glare worse. Truck drivers can clean the inside and outside of their windshields and make sure that they are streak-free. They can also keep a pair of polarized sunglasses in the car to protect their eyes and make it easier to see. Drivers may also wish to use their sun visors to block sunlight coming from the front or the side of the vehicle. By taking these precautions, truck drivers can increase their chances of seeing a pedestrian crossing the street, brake lights up ahead, or obstructions in the road.

Fallen Leaves

As the leaves change color in the fall, they begin to fall off the trees and onto the roads. Dry leaves reduce tire traction. Wet leaves present an even greater danger; when wet leaves are lying on top of dry pavement, they can cause a driver’s tires to skid.

To avoid losing control of their truck, drivers should slow down on leaf-covered roads. Drivers should proceed slowly, especially when going around turns; leaves can hide potholes, bumps, and other obstructions in the road. Additionally, truck drivers should be careful not to park next to piles of leaves, as they present a fire hazard from the vehicle’s exhaust system.

Deer Mating Season

Fall is mating season for deer and other wildlife such as elk and moose. This means that these animals will be more active and therefore on the road more often. They are most active at dawn and dusk, times when many New Jersey drivers are commuting to and from work. Truck drivers should always drive slowly and use their headlights when it is dark, especially in areas with large deer populations.

There are often deer crossing signs in areas where there have been accidents involving deer in the past, so drivers should pay attention to these warnings. It is also important not to swerve when encountering a deer in the road; swerving can cause trucks to overturn or run off the side of the highway. Rather, drivers should keep going forward while applying the brakes, giving the animal time to run out of the way.

Black Ice

This type of ice typically forms when roads are wet, and the temperature drops below freezing. Black ice is a thin, transparent layer of ice that only appears black because of the color of the pavement underneath. It makes the road slippery and is especially dangerous because it can be difficult for drivers to see. Going over a patch of black ice can cause a driver to lose control of their truck; therefore, this is a particularly dangerous hazard for which drivers need to be aware during the fall season.

It is not easy to see black ice, as it blends into the pavement. However, drivers can spot black ice by noticing areas where the road appears wet, particularly dark, or shiny. It also helps to be aware of the areas where black ice typically forms. Shady areas, such as under overpasses and bridges, are more likely to have black ice; therefore, drivers should be sure to exercise caution in those areas.

Fall Fog

There are several types of fog, including precipitation fog, freezing fog, and advection fog. Precipitation fog occurs when rain falls through cold air, causing it to evaporate and form fog. When temperatures drop below freezing, freezing fog can occur in the form of drizzle that freezes when it encounters an object. Advection fog forms when windy conditions blow warm, moist air into snow or cool moisture on the ground, raising the humidity levels and creating fog.

Driving in all types of fog is dangerous; therefore, it is important for drivers to plan for this type of weather. Drivers should keep their headlights on when conditions are foggy, but not the high beams, as they decrease visibility. In order to stay in their lane, drivers should focus on the lines in the road rather than looking straight ahead. It is also especially crucial to maintain a safe following distance when driving in foggy conditions.

More Hours of Darkness

The sun sets earlier in the fall. With the end of Daylight Saving Time comes more hours of darkness. Risks increase at night, a time when drivers are more fatigued and have difficulty seeing. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that 50 percent of traffic deaths happen at night, particularly on Saturday nights.

When traveling at night, drivers should make sure their headlights are on and aimed in the right direction. To enhance night vision, drivers can dim the lights on the dashboard, clean the windshields, and wear anti-reflective glasses. Drivers should also remain alert when driving at night and avoid getting behind the wheel when they are drowsy or intoxicated.

Harvest Season

Fall is harvest season for farmers in New Jersey and across the United States. This means that more trucks, tractors, combines, and other commercial vehicles will be on the road. These vehicles typically move slowly and have more blind spots than regular commercial vehicles, making them more susceptible to accidents. 

Drivers should slow down when approaching other trucks or farm equipment. If passing farm equipment, drivers should do so cautiously and only if there are no curves or hills obstructing the view of oncoming vehicles. Drivers need to watch out for no-passing zones and exercise patience during these times to avoid getting in an accident this fall.

Changing Weather

The weather can change quickly in the fall. Sunny mornings can quickly give way to afternoon rain and fog. One way that truck drivers can prepare for this unpredictability is by performing maintenance on their vehicles. Drivers should maintain and prepare their trucks for the fall season to reduce their risk becoming injured in an accident. Things to check include the battery, which can drain quicker in cold weather; and tire pressure, which can decrease during the fall when temperatures are lower.

Truckers who use diesel fuel should have an emergency gel additive handy in case there is a significant drop in temperature that causes the diesel fuel to turn waxy. Additionally, truck drivers should check the cooling systems, fuel filter and water separator, engine block heater, and air dryer before getting on the road this fall season.

Freehold Truck Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Seek Compensation for Victims Injured in Accidents During the Fall Season

If you were injured in an accident involving a truck, contact the Freehold truck accident lawyers at Ellis Law. We can evaluate your case and help you recover the financial compensation you deserve. We are committed to protecting your rights and will hold negligent parties accountable for your injuries. Call us at 732-308-0200 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.